Shattered Glass

Photo of Shattered Glass

Shattered glass from a broken car window

Our car got broken into a few weeks ago (fortunately our losses were very minimal) and I noticed some of the tempered glass in the back seat was shattered but hadn’t fully fallen apart yet.  As you can see these pieces had an incredible pattern to them and, of course, I wanted to capture the pattern with a photograph.  Along with the photo, I thought I’d share how I get the shot you see above.

The equipment:

  • Homemade light box for product photography (you can do a google search to see how to make one yourself)
  • Tripod with a center column you can switch to horizontal so your camera can get inside the light box (I used a Bogen Manfrotto 055XPROB with a 486RC2 Ball Head)
  • Macro Lens or extension tubes (I used a 5D Mark II with a Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro)
  • A computer to tether your camera to since you won’t be able to see the screen or viewfinder to focus.  Canon’s EOS Utility that comes with the camera is what I used to control the camera with my computer.  Connect the camera to the computer using the USB cable, turn the camera on and start EOS Utility.  When the EOS Utility screen pops ups, click on “Camera settings/Remote Shooting”.  From there, click on “Remote Live View Shooting”.  Compose your shot and then click on the magnifying glass to zoom to 100%.  The shutter button is near the top right side of the window that you clicked on the “Remote Live View Shooting” button. 
  • Tempered glass that is shattered but still together

 The set up:

  1. For the lighting, I used both the left and right side lights.  No light from above or below.
  2. I set a custom white balance in the camera by taking a photo of the white tagboard background and using that as my white balance reference.
  3. The glass was placed on clear plexiglass; the clear plexiglass on white tagboard.
  4. The camera was mounted on the tripod to face straight down at the sheet of glass so that the camera sensor was as close to parallel to the glass as possible.
  5. I set the camera to aperature priority, ISO 100, and an f-stop of f/8.0 to maximize depth of field but to minimize diffraction effects.  Shoot in RAW.
  6. Using the computer monitor as my live view screen, I zoomed to the 100% view to get the focus exactly where I wanted it (slightly below the surface).
  7. Because the shutter speeds are very slow, when clicking the onscreen shutter button, I positioned myself as far from the tripod set up as I could and stayed as still as I could.  Even little movements can cause camera shake and therefore blurry photos.  Fortunately you can see how prone your set up is to shake by keeping an eye on the live view screen.
  8. I took a few shots to make sure I got one without camera shake.  The other nice thing about having the camera tethered to the computer is that you can instantly see full size photos on your computer screen.

The Post Processing:

  1. I use lightroom 2 for almost all my post processing. All the settings below will be in reference to lightroom 2’s Develop Module, and I’ll only mention the settings I changed.
  2. Convert to Grayscale
  3. Blacks increased to 42
  4. Clarity increased to 100
  5. Point Curve set to Strong Contrast
  6. Highlights set to +62
  7. Lights set to +52
  8. Darks set to -62
  9. Shadows set to -100
  10.   Sharpening Amount set to 57
  11.   For the blog, I exported at 550×367 pixels, sharpening set to “screen” and “high”.
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