Ever since I read the post by Paulo about lighting the cocktail glass, I’ve wanted to try Dark Field Lighting.
I mean, even before we look at the science of it, it sounds like something sci-fi. I can just hear some alien captain telling his crew to fire up the “Dark Field Engine”.
Oh go on. You know you thought it too.
Anyway, when it comes to lighting, it’s a great technique for photographing glass. My understanding of it is that you need to light the object indirectly, providing a rim light only. To do this, you’ll need a few things.
- A flash gun you can trigger remotely
- Something white/light coloured to reflect the flash (I used a wall)
- A tripod and camera
- A black card or black background (I used a t-shirt and black card)
- A dark place to work
(It’s a good thing to try now when it’s dark early)
Basically, place the object you want to shoot in front of a black background. Make sure the background isn’t too big (bigger than the image you’re shooting is all you need). Now, behind the black background, place your flash gun. In my case I pointed it away from the black card and bounced the light off a wall but you might use a translucent sheet to shoot through if you wish (it’s just important to diffuse the light). Set the camera up for a 6 second exposure, focus it (and change the focus to manual) and then turn off the light. Open the shutter, fire the flash and hopefully…
My result is OK. If you want a good example of it, check Paulo’s picture.
There are a few lessons I learned while trying it.
- In a dark room, shutter speed is irrelevant so you can’t use it to control exposure. Instead you need to use the power on the flash gun. But be warned, I think a higher power on the flash equates to a longer exposure so if you’re trying to capture movement you may well introduce blurring
- Be sure where everything is before you turn off the lights…
- Make sure the glass is clean. Very very clean. This lamp looked clean to the naked eye, but look at the dust on it and in it
- Make sure the room is clear of clutter if possible or cover it out with black sheets in some way. If you look at the reflection in my image, you can see my dining room chairs off to one side
All in all, it’s a good thing to try. I believe it’s covered in the book Light Science and Magic and it’s on my Amazon Wish List so I can find out more.