Construction / Molds
Scoring / Breaking Glass
Fitting The Glass
Solder / Soldering
Releasing a Shade
Ring and Rim
Tools, Aids etc.
Health & Safety Concerns
Selling Your Artwork
Don Conti: If you follow these basic steps in setting up to photograph
your lamp, you should have a successful “shoot”
1. Pin or tape the backdrop (preferably a medium gray color) to a wall,
and “scoop” it onto a table - No wrinkles, no folds, no creases!
(Use a stiff brush to remove wrinkles from the material on the backdrop
2. Center your lamp on the table’s backdrop. At the bottom of the
lampbase, cut a small hole in the backdrop through which you can pass
the lamp cord. Make sure that neither the cord nor the hole can be seen
from camera position. Your lampbase should be fitted with 100 watt bulbs.
3. Plug the base into an extension cord that has been fitted with the
important “dimmer switch”. With the “dimmer” you
will be able to control the light level without having to change the wattage
of your bulbs while you experiment with light intensities. (Many lamp
slides that have been sent to us for calendar consideration cannot be
used because of too much light intensity. In these lamps, the colors are
“washed out”, so EXPERIMENT.)
4. Use 100 watt bulbs in three hooded fixtures. Make sure that the fixtures
are out of camera range; position one directly above your lamp and the
other two on either side. Check from the camera position to be sure you
aren’t getting reflections off your lamp from these light fixtures.
Check to see that the vase cap is lit and, if the base is to show in the
slide, make sure that the hooded side fixtures are lighting it properly.
5. Turn on the lights in your lamp and check for “hot spots”.
Mask any hot spot with white paper cut to the size of the offending area,
and attach the paper to the inside of the lamp with tacky wax or clear
tape. It is best to mask hot spots rather than lowering the light level
to eradicate them. The lower light might cause “dead” spots
in other areas. Now, your lamp is ready for photographing.
Brian O’Donovan: A digital camera should be at least 3.2 megapixels.
At 3.2 megapixels you can obtain the following prints:
a 10 x 8 inch print at 200 dpi
a 8 x 6 inch print at 250 dpi
a 7 x 5 inch print at 300 dpi
•The camera should have these capabilities:
Switching the flash off
A ten second timer on release button
Different focus settings (centre, weighted, etc.)
•I set the camera to flash off, manual, tungsten, ten second timer,
spot focus and macro.
•I also set it at maximum resolution at the lowest ASA rating.
The setup for photographing:
•I used two lamp stands which could take 100 watt spot lamps. Ideally
the spot lamps should be fitted with what photographers call snoots. This
is a tube that keeps the light output to a small area. As an alternative,
use yourself and willing helpers to hold cardboard. (Don uses a board
set on hinges. One light is set to one side of the camera which must be
on a tripod. This light will be set at the height of the base and will
be focused on the base.) You either hold a card with a hole in it or use
the snoot to make sure that no light is on the lamp base itself. The idea
is to get a small area of light just lighting up the base. You will need
to experiment (as Don points out in step 4 in “Shooting Photos of
Lamps”) to get the correct amount of light on the base.
•The second spot lamp should be set higher to focus on the cap.
Again you will use cardboard or a snoot to make sure that no light is
on the lampshade itself. Again a dimmer on this spot lamp would be useful.
•Put a 60 or 100 watt bulb or bulbs in your lampshade or use a dimmer
as described by Don. Choose the bulb to get a bright sparkling lampshade
but no hotspots. If you have three bulbs put two in front on either side
and one at the back. If you use a harp put the harp sideways, i.e. the
uprights on the right and left.
•Prepare the backdrop. (see step 1 in “Shooting Photos of
The most important aspects:
•Work in a darkened room so that the only light will be your two
spots and the lampshade itself. No other light should fall on the lamp.
(As soon as light falls on your lamp, you will be photographing the outside
and not the light shining through.
•I set up the camera so that the centre focusing indicator was on
the lamp itself. (However, using center focusing did not seem to make
an awful lot of difference over matrix or manual focusing.)
•Set the camera to its smallest aperture (mine is f8) and try a
range of pictures at .4, .5, .6 and .8 of a second. That seems to be the
best range. You would use the timer to make sure that there is no camera
shake and to give you time to make sure that your pieces of cardboard
are in the right place.
It seems that the variables we need to control are:
•The amount, direction and span of the light on the cap and the
•The amount of light through the lamp (to give sparkle without major
•The amount, if any, of light on the front of the lamp.
•The exposure itself.
Walt Makos: There are different ways to reduce the glare of the light
bulb - one is to add a second glass layer to the lamp and another is to
sandblast the backside of the glass in the problem area. One can etch
the glass - either mechanically or with chemicals. I found that sandblasting
works best and produces a frosted surface that softens the hot spots of
Larry Cartales: One way to decide if “hot spots” in your lamp
are really a problem is to install 2 white bulbs on one side of the lampbase
and 2 clear bulbs on the other. Look at your lamp with either the white
or the clear bulbs turned on to see if you are really not pleased with
its look. Before you go to the trouble of sandblasting or even etching,
you might try putting a piece of (frosted) scotch tape or a piece of mylar
over the “trouble” area of the lamp to see if a light frost
might make the difference. If it does, etching cream might be the simplest
Mike Barnes: I just finished another lengthy photo session with my Grape
Chandelier. The colors in the lamp cover a broad spectrum and, therefore,
caused lots of problems. The film I use is 100 Elite Chrome (previously
named Ektachrome). Like Don and Chaz, I have a Cannon AE-1. I stayed in
the manual mode and found that if I used 100 watt bulbs in the lamp and
positioned my camera slightly above the center of the lamp, I was able
to achieve the right color mix. I got good results at f stops 8 and 11
(different views) at 1 second shutter speed. I also tried 1/2 f stop intervals.
I put the external side lights on a dimmer and used it at about 3/4 power.
I also used a blue filter. I had an additional problem because the chandelier
was doing what chandeliers do as they hang from the ceiling, but I won’t
go into that! I am certainly not a professional...I’m just persistent.
Kevin Hendon: While Dave Hammond and I were in the middle of a photo session
the other day, we discovered that one of the nasturtium petals in my lamp
seemed rather “hot” compared to the rest of the lamp and needed
to be calmed down. There wasn’t any white paper handy for us to
try the “paper” trick, but Scotch tape was on hand, so we
ripped off a piece, taped it to the inside of the lamp over the hot petal
and bingo! we did our own “etching” job! Worked pretty well.
Chaz Smith: Nothing is considered cheating in order to get a good photo!
You can change lighting by adding more bulbs, use different bulbs or position
extra bulbs; shim the shade up to change bulb position, use various bulbs
in different socket positions or use a dimmer switch. You might find that
a long aquarium bulb might help spread the light since the filament in
these bulbs is several inches long. You can change camera position or
even tape paper inside the lamp in order to shade certain areas that show
hot spots. Spend the $10 for the blue filter for your camera. It costs
no more than a roll of film and developing does and it’s the “tried
and true” method. As you may notice, Don’s photos tend to
be among the best in the calendar, so why mess with success! I use a Cannon
AE-1 camera. I set the shutter speed and it picks the f stop, automatically
accounting for the blue filter. Even though, theoretically, it is good
to 94 bracket shots (+/- an f stop), I’ve found that the ones where
the camera picks it are always the best. Of all the slides I send in,
these are invariably the ones that are chosen to be shown at the slide
show meeting. Focus is critical. To get a good depth of field, your f
stop should end up at least 5.6 to 8. Focus in at the center of the lamp,
rather than at the nearer rim. Many zoom lenses sacrifice optical trueness
for the ability to zoom. This lense will cause straight lines to look
curved - especially at the edges of the photo. The standard 50mm lense
that comes with many cameras is probably a good bet. I might be inclined
to use a longer lense and move back from the lamp rather than a wide angle
to get closer. Get royal blue felt from a craft store for your backdrop.
Spend at least 2 hours setting up before shooting. If you can do that
in less than 2 hours, you’re either not doing it right or you’re
in Don’s studio! Remember, your eye corrects for and removes all
kinds of things you don’t want to see. The slightest glare than
you barely see will really show up in a photo. Finally, allow no hot spots
in your lamp or wrinkles in your backdrop to show. Have the lamp fill
the frame and try to have the base and external hardware lit without light
glaring off the outside of the lamp. By the way, the blue filter on the
camera is to correct for the fact that the film is designed to be used
in sunlight. Since incandescent light is not full spectrum light, photos
tend to have a yellow cast. The blue just corrects for that and makes
the photo look more like how we perceive the actual lamp after our mind
says “white is white”. It does not tint the photos blue -
white will be white. No filter is necessary if you are shooting outdoors.
Ever notice how nice a lamp looks if you hold it up to the sun? The blue
filter helps it look a bit more like that.