Serendipitini showcases artist Teena Stewart's work while encouraging and supporting artists in the handmade industry.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How to Photograph Etched Glass

I make table top and hanging wine bottle candles from recycled wine bottles and some of these are hand etched. I never realized when I began working with etching how difficult it is the photograph etched glass. In fact, I researched different photography tip sites and no one had anything good to say about photographing etched glass. All admitted that it is hard. They suggested trying different things.

I already knew that to capture the etching the light had to be coming from an angle. I had snapped a fairly decent photo of an etched bottle by using natural light coming through a window, but the problem with natural light is it depends on the time of day, how bright it is outside and even what direction the sun is coming in from and this differs at different times of year. So I have never been able to duplicate it.

One of the suggestions made on one of the photography tip sites was to set the bottle on top of a light box and lay a cloth or dark paper on top of the light box in which you have cut a hole the circumference of the bottle. Seemed like a good idea.  Here is link to the light box I made and talked about in a previous blog.

When I tried the bottle on top of the light box method with the hole cut in black matboard, it actually did show the design very well. It looked good to the naked eye, however when I went to snap the photo, the light shooting up through the bottle was way too much for the camera lens and it created an overexposure. I tried blocking out some of that light by laying paper over the hole but still had the same problem. (A less bright light in the light box might have done the trick, but alas, I didn't have such a thing.

One other photography tip suggest I read was that I needed to have light coming from both sides . I did this but that alone wasn't enough so I put my light box lower than and behind the etched bottle and this worked pretty well after I made several adjustments. Here's  what I did.

I opened a card table and laid it on its side and draped it with black fabric.  Then I took a small ottoman and put that in from of the card table, draped it and set my bottle on top.  I used two clip on utility lights (which you can get at a home improvement store) and clipped them to two dining room chairs and shot the light down from the top and sides. You can clearl
y see the candle and the etching.  You can see these candles and others on my Serendipitini Etsy store.

I have found that when listing the etched candles in my Etsy store it helps to show them with a close up of the pattern and also with the pillar candle separately since the pillar candle tends to obscure the etching. If you succeed in photographing etched glass be sure to share your photos and photography tips. 


  1. Taking pictures of glass is such a tricky process, especially if it has an etched or engraved design. Thanks for sharing your tips!