Tuesday, November 17, 2020

How To: Photographing Bottled Light

My aunt shared with me a You Tube video a while back by one of her favorite photographers - Harold Davis.  It was how to Photographing Bottle Light.  I just loved it!  Check out his videos if you are interested.

I am offering my experience with the process.

Materials needed: Colored bottles, color for water in clear bottles, sunshine, a camera with a macro lens or at least a good macro setting and a very clean white surface.  I will cover some options in each area.

Colored Bottles or containers - wine bottles, vinegar bottles, olive oil bottles, condiment bottles, etc.  Check the kitchen and cleaning supplies.  I found the dark green olive oil bottle did not light a lot of light through so great job for oil maybe less effective for this process. But use whatever you find and see what happens. Think of colored vases as well.

Clear Glass - bottles or vases of clear glass can be used with colored water.  

Glass texture and pattern - some texture or pattern in the glass adds to the refraction of the light.  I had a small etched vase where the etched areas became almost black.  Not what I wanted.

Color for Water - I have lots of liquid acrylic so that is what I used. Harold used food coloring.  It needs to concentrated and transparent.

White surface - It must be CLEAN and smooth.  The material should not absorb the light.  I used foam core board which worked well.   It needs to large enough for the light to be refracted beside the containers. 

Light - I found bright sunshine the best.  Any artificial light I used did not produce results I was happy with.

My experience with stemware was not very successful.   

Setup is entirely up to you.  Does the light go through one bottle to the next creating new color? Do you want the shape of the glass to play a part? Compose your art as you wish based on light, shape and color.

Very Important - You are photographing the light on the white not the light through the containers. 


Here are some examples of the photos I took over 2 photo sessions.

Post Processing: I had to trim all of my images because I could not isolate the light from the container.  All of these have been brighten and had some adjustment in the color saturation.  Rotate the image as you may see something you could see from the other direction.

Now, I don't have the imagination that Harold has to see objects within the abstract shapes.  Maybe that will come in time.

How about photographing the light through the glass?  Anything goes really.

This one has the large blue bottle in front of the olive bottle with an artificial light behind the olive bottle.  The bottles are overlapping creating the bright green color in the center.  It was nice to have the 2 small dots in the bottom right hand corner to provide a git of a focal element.

I would encourage you to experiment!  All you have to lose is a bit of time and colored water.

I am so glad I tried this technique!

1 comment:

  1. Sylvia - fascinating - I never would have thought about using colored water!!!


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