FAQ Index

Light Table

Construction / Molds

Choosing Glass

Pattern Preparation

Pattern Hints

Scoring / Breaking Glass



Fitting The Glass

Lamp Positioners

Solder / Soldering

Reinforcing Lamps

Special Considerations


Releasing a Shade

Ring and Rim



Special Applications

Tools, Aids etc.

Health & Safety Concerns


Selling Your Artwork

Workshop Renovations

Photographing Lamps


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 and table.)
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:
Manual exposure
Switching the flash off
Tungsten correction
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 Lamps”)
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.
The variables:
It seems that the variables we need to control are:
•The amount, direction and span of the light on the cap and the base.
•The amount of light through the lamp (to give sparkle without major hotspots).
•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 the shade.
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 solution.
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.