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Lighting A Wine Glass With Rim Light

A quick budget way to light a wine glass with the edges highlighted.

|  Studio Lighting and Flash
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Words and pictures, Peter Bargh ePHOTOzine. (Updated Aug 2013)

Before we move on to the 'how to' please note that I've done this in the crudest and fastest possible way to show that you can produce studio quality results with the minimum of gear and time. While it helps to have studio flashes, softboxes, reflectors, stands, luxury backdrops and a still-life table, you don't need them. The effect can be created with minimal kit. As you'll see here:

Light Source


To get the rim light effect you need to light the glass from behind. You can use flash guns or, in this case, two reading lamps turned on their sides. Any light source will do but the important thing is not to have any spillage or you end up with more reflections than you want on the glass.

What Else Do You Need?

You need a black background. I used some old velvet material that I bought for a few quid many years ago. It used to be my window blackout blind in the darkroom and now makes a useful backdrop.


I placed a chair behind and draped the material over it and onto the table to create a curve. No need for an expensive still life bench! Next I placed the lamps at each side, laid on their side so the bulbs are at glass level and near to the background, leaving a wide enough space in the middle for the wine glass.

The glass is placed forward of the lamps. Now I needed a screen for the blub so stray light didn't spill onto the glass and a sheet of white paper to diffuse the lamp and spread the white reflection over the glass. I used two ring binders opened so they free stand and taped one edge of the white paper to this. I used normal lined A4 paper to show you don't even have to go expensive on the paper you use. The paper sheets were then adjusted so they curved slightly around the lamps.

If you want to make a better job you would use larger sheets along with black card to diffuse, spread or mask light.

Set the camera up parallel to the glass, look through the viewfinder and adjust the position of the glass (front to back) and the folders/white paper until the white rim highlight is the thickness you desire on the edges of the glass. Don't worry at this stage about spillage on the background as that can be cleaned up later in Photoshop. Take your shot. Auto metering will probably give the result you're after, but you can check it on the LCD and re-shoot if necessary.

Below is the result of my simple set up. Left is a shot straight out of the camera and the right is a shot with colour correction and some burning in of light spillage on the background which was completed in Photoshop.








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User_Removed 18 17.9k 8 Norway
20 May 2009 1:09PM
I read that thread Pete... Great advice here. 'Neccesity' always was the great 'Mother of Invention'!
jeanie Plus
18 6.0k 6 United Kingdom
20 May 2009 6:24PM
Very interesting and proof that it can be done on a budget. Wish I had known this technique when I was doing my A-level a few years ago....
Andy_Cundell 11 1.1k 5 England
28 Sep 2011 1:44PM
Thanks for sharing this gem!Grin

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