Lego’s, Mr Potato Head and Spray Paint


It’s been years since we’ve published anything but landscape pictures here on the blog and the excuse we have for this laziness is simply a lack of time. My previous job had me working out of town and doing lots of overtime. Mix in a wedding and a newborn (who is a toddler already!) and maybe some will forgive the tardiness.

The 2016/2017 winter was long (like every Edmonton winter) but the difference this time was the lack of snow. In November I found myself sulking because the prairie fields were gloomy & brown. To brush away the blues I decided to continue on from where I left off with still life photography. It’s not my favorite genre or one that I am great at since I lack the huge amount of patience and practice required. So much time can be spent planing, setting up your area/equipment and prepping your subjects.

Surprisingly, our most popular post is about making your own light tent. You can be sure if only one person visits the blog on a given day it’s to visit this 2012 DIY post. The second post we did on the subject showed my failure at creating a perfect reflecting surface. I converted the light tent into a backdrop support and used glass to create a reflection. You can find this last post here.  The main issue I found with this tabletop set up was:

“…the quality of the reflection.  There is a small double reflection around bottom of the reflected lemons.  I came across a flickr discussion  that will help solve this problem in the future.”

So before I did anything else I needed to create a proper reflection.

For those starting out this will show a nice and inexpensive way to create this kind of photograph. Hopefully my pictures and descriptions will be sufficient but if not please comment with any questions or suggestions you might have.

Here is how I created a dark background and reflections using black glass: 

Step 1: Create a black background out of black foam core.

The black background isn’t needed if the room you are shooting in is really dark or if you are using lighting equipment, but I found it helpful.


Step 2: Create black glass using glass from an old picture frame (or glass from another source) and spray paint.

Don’t forget to apply the paint safely according to the manufacturers instructions and handle the glass safely. Opaque black acrylic sheets can be purchased and used instead of the painted glass but here in Canada it’s pricey for a hobbyist like me.

Step 3: Wait for the paint to dry.

While waiting for the paint to dry I moved the background to a black table to practice.

For most of the pictures I used a flashlight that had the ability to focus/narrow the beam of light. I tried to use a Nikon Speedlight but, even with a grid attached, I found it difficult to control where the light fell. The downside to using the flashlight is I needed a tripod to eliminate camera shake.

Here are a couple of pictures where I used a Speedlight:


This picture was the best one I could make with the Nikon Speedlight. Not bad but not my favorite.

Here are a couple of pictures that show the position of the flash:


Step 4: Grab your dried glass and start shooting some Lego or whatever 🙂

Here is the BTS with the black glass:

The last time I tried this technique I was taking pictures of a drinking glass so here is a quick attempt at it again. Not perfect but at least I did it 🙂

The spray paint solved my issue with the double reflection. Spray painting the glass was a pain but it didn’t take as much work as I imagined. Aside from my camera & tripod, all that I needed was foam core, a borrowed flash light, a 5 dollar can of spray paint and a glass panel I stole from a old picture frame. 🙂

I hope this may have helped some new hobbyists. For large versions of the pictures in this post you can click on this link.


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