Le Trio La-Crocked Water Glass Illusion (or something like that)


Part of learning photography is to take on new challenges, experiences and projects. As a catalyst to egg me on to keep shooting something different each week, I’ve joined a group called Focus52 – Shoot at least one new photo a week for 52 weeks. Most weeks have a Prompt for you to follow too.

This weeks Prompt happened to be; Water. Now, as most of you know, I live on an island in the Pacific NW, surrounded by water, which I spend a lot of time visiting, going out on, whale watching, wildlife exploring and photographing. Water? That’s too easy! I thought I’d challenge myself to learn something new and somewhat different this week though.

I’ve seen this trick done several times over the years, and have always added it to my “I’ll have to learn that some day list”, well today’s the day for this line item.

This photo shows the main set-up. First, before you start adding water to the glasses, get everything else in place, experiment with placements, angles and lights long before you start tilting the platform the glasses are sitting on, and especially before adding water to the experiment. I spent a good part of the evening, just trying to figure out the best placement of lights, including the light-table I used as a backdrop. Turns out, it’s a bit smaller than I needed, so I had to get the glasses as close to it as possible so that edges didn’t show. The rest of it is just moving things around, take a shot, look at your screen, adjust as necessary the props/lights/camera settings, shot again, look at your screen, repeat as necessary.

I was mostly going for the best even lighting with the fewest reflections, especially bright spots in the glass. I don’t have any soft-boxes, so I had to make due with what I had. If I had a little bit more time, I would have tried a few other things too.

Once you’re pretty comfortable with your set-up, it’s time to start tilting the platform that the glasses are on. My first set of test shots didn’t have enough of an angle for what I wanted, so I had to tilt a bit more. I just used a cardboard box with a rubber placemat on top. Notice to the side a couple of measuring cups I used as ‘technical spacers’ to hold the box at the angle I needed. Also, I used a couple of standard ‘cereal bowls’ to get the light-table up to the the proper height I discovered I’d need once I started tilting things.

You’ll also notice a ruler on hand for proper spacing of the glasses – And important – A towel to not only clean fingerprints off the glass, but water spots during the shoot too. Off to the other, “down-hill side” is a larger towel, just in case gravity takes over a little too much.

Once I got the proper angle, then it’s a matter of tilting the camera so that it’s still parallel and square with the glasses and platform. A ruler helped here too, make sure you’re square from left to right also.

Now it’s just matter of adding water. I used a small little pitcher that allowed me to pour a bit more accurately, with less spills and splashing. From there, it’s just more experimenting as too how much water you’ll need. Keep that towel handy, as you’re going to need to dab out water spots still.

Every step of the way, I’d fire off a couple shots, just in case. Tweak the lights as needed, play some more and shoot some more.

As for the colored water; I was going to use food coloring (I even thought about using juice at one point, but that’s very messy to clean-up and expensive too), but didn’t have any, so the colors were added in Photoshop afterwards – Which is another lesson on my Photoshop blog for another day.

This didn’t turn out exactly as I had envisioned, but it’s pretty close and I learned a lot in the process – Which is the important part!

Enjoy, experiment, have fun,


About masterofmadness

Semi-pro photographer & musician. Co-own a photo gallery with a digital photo-lab in a small tourist town, on an island in the Pacific NW of USA. I also teach and ongoing series of workshops in photography, Photoshop and Apple computers. I shoot mostly landscapes, in the mountains - Giving me a great excuse to go climb them. I also do a lot of fine art, macros and abstracts.
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2 Responses to Le Trio La-Crocked Water Glass Illusion (or something like that)

  1. Alison says:

    Very Cool!!!

  2. coolmama72 says:

    that’s really neat! I’m sure I would have gone the food coloring route and made quite the mess. anyhow, really love the wooden person hanging out with the glasses, just an awesome touch. 🙂

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