How to photograph etched glass trophy – on your smartphone

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How to photograph etched glass trophy – on your smartphone

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30 killer tips to create impactful event photographs using your smartphone
Using two smartphones and apps - achieve a professional-looking photo of a glass trophy
I was thrilled in 2017 to win an innovative idea award at the 2017 ANZ Geelong Small Business Awards. Such an awesome honour deserves a decent photo of the trophy!

Capturing a photo of etched glass can be quite difficult. I have a simple technique for you that only requires:
  • Smartphone to take photos
  • Second mobile phone as a light source
  • Snapseed and Retouch apps (both available on Android and iOS)
Preparation
1. If like me, you are really excited and cannot put your trophy down or stop sharing it – you will need to wipe off the finger marks! When you pass light through the glass, these marks will really stand out!

2. Place the trophy in front of a black or dark background. In this scenario, I simply placed it in front of the black desktop screen.

3. Utilise the torch of a second phone to shine light straight up through the middle of the trophy. What better way to achieve this than simply place the trophy on top of the phone! Experiment with the positioning to achieve different lighting effects.

*BONUS TIP: Place a black screen behind the phone to minimise any reflection.
use a second torch to shine through the glass trophy to make the etching stand out
Shooting Technique
1. Place your phone either on a tripod or in a sturdy position

2. Align the actual lens of the phone with the trophy – not the centre of the screen!

3. Position the lens either level with the trophy or slightly lower.

4. Tap the screen of your phone on the writing within the trophy. This tells the phone which section of the image needs to be detailed (in focus).

5. On the iPhone, swipe up and down to make the image either darker or brighter. Not many people know you can do this! Androids may be different and require you to swipe left and right.

6. Use the timer function to capture the photo without you bumping the phone and creating a blurred image.

*BONUS TIP: You can attach your earphones to your phone and tap on the volume minus button to avoid bumping the phone while you tap the screen!
Photo Editing Process

My favourite photo editing app that is available for both iOS and Android is Snapseed by Google – so you know it is going to be good! The second app I will be showing you is TouchRetouch by Adva Soft.

1. Open the Snapseed app and tap Open to select the image from your camera roll or gallery. Tap on the pencil icon then select Rotate. Now swipe left or right to straighten your image and tap on the tick.

2. Tap the pencil 'Tools' and tap on Black and White. In this section tap on each of the presets, until you find one you like. You are looking for a result that darkens the image, yet still contains the edges of the trophy. Next tap on Adjust and swipe and down to access each adjustment – then left and right to increase/decrease the strength. When you are done, tap the tick.

3. Tap on the pencil 'Tools', then Tune Image. Each photo will be different. I found my image benefited from less brightness and shadows and more ambience, highlights and a bit of warmth. At any time, you can tap and hold the icon in the top right corner to see the before and after. Tap on the tick to accept your changes.

4. Tap on the pencil and select brush. Tap Dodge and Burn then Decrease until the number at the bottom of the screen is -10. Now you can paint over sections of the photo to make them darker. You can tap on the eye icon named Mask to see exactly where you are swiping. To undo an effect – tape the increase/decrease until you see Eraser. To make areas lighter – change the number to +10. This can take a little bit of work. However, the results from this attention to detail can really pay off.

5. Tap on the pencil again (getting repetitive now). Tap on Details to introduce some sharpening. Place two fingers on the screen to pinch and zoom. Whenever we are making the photo look more in focus – we want to zoom in to see the effect. Tap Adjust and swipe down to access Structure. I rarely swipe right past 10. Swipe up to access Sharpening then swipe right as far as you like. Tap on the tick to accept.

How to photograph etched glass trophy – on your smartphone
6. The last step is to remove the speckles of light or blemishes. You can do this in Snapseed using Healing or my preference is a second app named TouchRetouch by Adva-Soft. If you have this installed already on your phone – tap on the three dots in the top right corner, then Open in... Swipe right until you see Copy to Retouch. Alternatively, save/export the photo to the camera roll or gallery and open it in Retouch.

7. Similar to Snapseed – pinch and zoom. Tap on Clone, then tap onto a black part of the photo. Next, swipe over the area that you want to replace. How cool is this app? You have an option in settings to make some adjustments to the size and strength of the effect. The secret is to do a little bit at a time. Be mindful, that where you tap the screen to copy from will move as you swipe over the area you want to replace. When you are finished, tap the share icon and select where you want to save the photo.

*BONUS TIP: To introduce the extra light burst, I have used the iOS app LensLight Visual Effects by BrainFeverMedia. Tap the +New icon, select your image and Done. Tap on Effects then Lens Flares. In this image, I selected Distant Quasar. Next tap, hold and drag the lens flare over top of any existing lens flare on the image – or make a new one! Tap on Edit and experiment with the scale, brightness and drag your finger around the colour wheel. Tap the share icon to save your completed image.

Now you have an image you can almost be as proud, as the trophy itself!

18. Minimise the distractions in the photo
Clear table tops of tall wine bottles and move around to include a less busy, cluttered background. The people are the story in the image.

19. Avoid eating photos
No one wants to see that!

20. Add energy to the photos
If there isn't any energy at the event (we have all been to those) add some to your photos by intentionally tilting your phone to capture an angled photo.

21. Capture photos where people are mingling
Avoid the photos of one or two people standing on their own. Whenever you capture a group – take at least three photos to avoid someone having their eyes closed!

22. Capture a variety of photos
Take lots of photos, including the presenters, attendees, candid personal exchanges, distant, side and wide. Even capture closes up of catering and any promotional material.

23. Take multiple photos of speakers
Select a photo without the mid-word gaping wide mouth and skewed eyes!

24. Look like you belong
Blend in with the audience in your attire and behaviour. This reflects professionalism, respect to the event organiser and enables you to connect with attendees.
Blend in when taking photos
25. Communicate the Company brand
An outdoor activity Company would avoid indoor posed photos. They would prefer dynamic images of healthy living - full of energy and vibrant colour.

26. Capture candid photos
Did you know you can take a photo using the volume minus button on the side of the phone? You do not need to hold the phone up in front of your face.

27. Creative blur in your photos
Capture photos with a foreground and background at a distance to create some interesting depth and blur the background. Some smartphones have a portrait mode that blurs the background. You can also achieve a blurred background using After Focus app.

28. Capture tables from a lower angle
Shooting a lower angle across the table fills the frame with people instead of the messy distracting table contents.

29. Don't forget the video
Hold the phone horizontal! When moving left and right, lock in your arms and move with your hips.
Tilt adds energy by tilting the photo
After the Event
Double-check with event organisers that attendees were informed and provided consent to having their photo taken at registration. The organisers may have a list of people who did not want their photo taken. This is a very real concern for some people who want to control where their photo is shared.

We live in a mobile world, where everyone wants to see the photos within a 24 hour period. Any longer and the photos quickly become less relevant. Capturing the photo on the phone, allows you to edit and share directly to social media and email – without having to connect to a computer.

All photos require some editing to become a storytelling visual image. I know some will argue that they prefer photos that are not edited. That is a debate, I will win another day!


30. Photo editing apps
We live in an exciting time where we are absolutely spoilt for photo editing app options. Snapseed photo editing app by Google (iOS and Android) is my go-to app for quick easy edits to more advanced editing. Touch Retouch, After Focus and PicsArt are also saved on my home screen for quick photo edits.

before and after image using white balance amongst other editing techniques using mobile photo apps
Conclusion
To summarise the main learnings covered:
  • Be excited about capturing the business event
  • Become familiar with your phone camera
  • Plan where to position, and how to capture the event
  • Be creative and capture a variety of photos
  • Photo editing can really make your photos pop off the screen
  • Communicate the desired story, consistent with the Company brand

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