Bobbie Burnett’s Angels

My latest assignment was to photograph Bobbie Burnett’s Angels. Her picture and the following explanation of her company are on the homepage of her website:

“The Caring Collection creates stained glass artwork to benefit cancer patients at the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center in Baltimore, Maryland and the Anne Arundel Oncology Center in Annapolis, Maryland.  It is composed of a group of over 90 volunteers of all ages and backgrounds who create stained glass angels and sun catchers. To date, they have donated over $945,000 for specific equipment for patient care and research.”
Bobbie began to design stained glass angels in 1982. Now she is creating a book about her collection. At present there are over twenty past angels in the collection, however only a few are currently available for purchase.

Photography of glass objects presents a challenge and most of the issues center around reflections and specular highlights. The photographer wants to eliminate these, but the end result can be a very flat, uninteresting image.

So what to do? I generally place the object (angel) on a pedestal and go about controlling the light source. I build a background or “tent” to keep unwanted reflections at bay. Then I place a very large reflector (I use a folding one made by Lastolite) in front of the angel to use as a key light. I could use softboxes with flash, but I like to see how the actual light source is continually striking the object. I now have a flat-lit angel with no reflections. A black background eliminates reflections or other shapes that may appear in the transparent areas of the angel.

So far so good. Now, I add my own highlights to create my own rim lighting and specular highlights but only where I want them. I do this by using strings of white Christmas tree lights — moving them around until I get the effect I want. (See Setup Picture 1 above). I try a couple of different placements and shoot several bracketed frames of each. I also turn off the Christmas tree lights to give the client the flat light option. (See Angel with lights Picture 2, and Angel flat light Picture 3 left.)

Two of these images now grace note cards that The Caring Collection has for sale.

Experiment. Sometimes even an inanimate angel can bring surprises to your photography!


One thought on “Bobbie Burnett’s Angels

  1. What a clever idea to illuminate the angels! Having purchased some from the Caring Collection o’er the past 20 years, I’ll visit my Christmas closet for lil’ bulbs to accessorize my own collection. Thanks for the tip.

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