This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
Lighting. Unless proper precautions are taken difficulties will be experienced when photographing glassware, cut-glass, etc., in overcoming reflections and excessively strong high-lights. The subject should be lighted a trifle from the side. An ordinary window supplies good illumination for this purpose, working with the object about four feet away from the window and a little to the rear of it, and the camera arranged as close to the wall or window as possible.
Frame To Avoid Reflections. To avoid side reflections a small three-sided frame may be employed. This frame can be easily constructed by taking three sheets of cardboard 22 x 28 inches in size, having a dead black surface on one side. Lay the three cards, with the black side up, edge to edge on the floor or work-bench. Paste strips of dark cloth over the adjoining edges - these act as hinges. When dry the frame is ready for use. Place this cardboard frame on the table or support which is to hold the subject, with the black side facing inward, the whole forming a U-shaped enclosure. The subject should now be placed in the center of this enclosure. In other words, the subject will be about eight inches from the background, and the cardboard wings on each side will extend sufficiently to the front to cut off all side reflections in the glassware. The frame may be constructed of boards, if desired, and then covered with velvet or plush, or any black material which will absorb, rather than reflect, light.
305. When small articles, such as cut-glass, tumblers, small vases and small silver pieces are to be photographed, very good results may be obtained by placing a black cardboard, about 14 x 17 inches, against an ordinary window, and then place the article on a table within, say, six inches of the cardboard. Then place the camera directly facing the window. The object will receive illumination from both sides, thus giving prominence to the figure or design. For small articles the camera should be arranged to slightly look down upon them. For tall articles this would not be satisfactory, as the article would appear distorted, and a more central point should be selected.
307 Coins, Jewels and Flat Surfaced Objects. - Photographs of coins, jewels, engraved plates and flat surfaced objects, generally, are best made arranged on the floor, with the camera attached to the tilting tripod attachment. By arranging such articles on the floor, using an ordinary window for the source of illumination, you will have sufficient cross light to give snap, and at the same time the light is sufficiently broad and soft to give good detail.
Another Method For Avoiding Reflections. French chalk or putty (rolled up into a ball) applied to silver objects will produce a dullness which will prevent reflections. If French chalk is employed, it will be a good plan to make a bag of some soft material, in which to place the chalk. Then the bag containing the chalk is patted over the subject, leaving a coating of powder. One of the best methods to employ, however, but one requiring quick action, is, after having focused the subject and gotten everything in readiness for the exposure, to place a piece of ice in the glass, china or silver object, if it is an open receptacle. As soon as the subject is thoroughly chilled it will be covered with a fine moisture, which gives the same effect as the powder or putty. The exposure must be made at this moment; otherwise the accumulation of the moisture will cause water to run on the surface, leaving streaks, which will appear in the picture.