An essential, but often underappreciated, bit of photography studio gear is the humble reflector card. In this post, I will show three examples of how we use reflectors with glass objects to demonstrate just how important they are.
What is a reflector card? Simply put, it is piece of card stock, foam board, paper, or foil used to reflect light from a source. It can be shiny, dull, satin, white, gray, etc. For our purposes, we only use neutral colors because, as a museum, we have a responsibility to faithfully reproduce accurate color of the objects we photograph. You can get reflector card stock and cut your own to size or buy assortments of common sizes (most of the reflectors in the examples in this post are made by LightRight). You can even use aluminum foil, which conveniently has a shiny and a dull side, attached to cardboard or foam board. Crinkling the foil and then smoothing it back out creates a third surface type. White card stock or foam board works well for softer fills.
In the three examples that follow, I will show how
reflectors can be used to evenly light an entire object, showcase transparency
and translucency, and subtly create highlights and define edges.
Have you heard that ancient people didn’t see the color blue, because there is no word for ‘blue’ in many ancient languages? This idea shows up occasionally in popular media, although scholars have demonstrated repeatedly that the Greeks and other ancient people certainly recognized and saw the color blue, although they described, and perhaps even experienced, the color differently than we do today. But these studies do show that language shapes the way we see and experience the world.
So what does this have to do with glass? Ancient people did
not have a separate word that referred specifically to the material we call
“glass” until the Romans began to use the Latin word vitrus in the first century B.C. The first century B.C. was a
critical time in the history of glass: the new technology of glass blowing was about
to take off, and more people were drinking from glass cups, wearing glass
jewelry, decorating furniture and walls with glass inlays, and playing dice and
board games with glass tokens.
Explore humanity’s greatest inventions and discoveries in a new interactive online project by Google Arts & Culture, in collaboration with The Corning Museum of Glass.
People have shaped and molded glass for ages and
experimented with improving the basic recipe for glass. But it took innovations
in modern chemistry to make a new glass for a new era possible. When German
glassmaker Otto Schott (1851-1935) discovered that adding boron to glass
recipes produced a borosilicate glass resistant to thermal expansion, he paved
the way for new inventions.
Today The Corning Museum of Glass announces its first ever online exhibition featuring the journey of discovery that took glassmaking from a centuries-old craft to a modern material that shapes our everyday lives. The exhibition, New Glass for a New Era: Borosilicate Glass, is launched in partnership with Google Arts & Culture’s Once Upon a Try—the largest online exhibition about inventions and discoveries ever curated. Collections, stories and knowledge from over 110 renowned institutions across 23 countries are now brought together, highlighting millennia of major breakthroughs and the great minds behind them.
From railroad lanterns resistant to drastic temperature changes, to glass battery jars and thermometer tubing—the invention of borosilicate glass lead a wave of new glass innovations. Borosilicate glass was the original recipe for Corning’s Pyrex bakeware and the ubiquitous Pyrex measuring cup. Borosilicate glass was also the innovation behind a giant 200-inch glass mirror in the Hale telescope, allowing us to explore new reaches of space.
“As long as you’re paying attention, there’s no such thing as a failed experiment—you can always learn from what nature tells you,” says Corning Museum’s chief scientist Jane Cook. “The 200-inch disk is a perfect example of how scientists have learned from 20 tons of failure.”
And artists have been inspired by the innovation of
borosilicate glass too. See how the properties of this glass led to larger and
more intricate compositional works in glass sculpture by artists including Věra
Lišková (1924-1979), Ginny Ruffner (b. 1952), and Geoffrey Mann (b. 1980).
“Glass changes the world, and borosilicate glass captured
our imagination to bring new ways of working at home, in the lab, and in the
artist’s studio,” says Eric Goldschmidt, properties of
glass programs supervisor at The Corning Museum of Glass. “Borosilicate glasses
have allowed artists to achieve even more complex and remarkable works and it’s
amazing to see what we can still possibly achieve with this material.”
As part of Once Upon
a Try, everybody can
now explore more than 400 interactive exhibitions that pay tribute to humanity’s greatest leaps
in science and technology progress, and the
visionaries that shaped
our world, as well as tales of epic fails
and happy accidents. Once Upon A Try also lets you dive into
Street View to tour the sites of great discoveries, from deep underground inside
CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, to
high in the
sky onboard the
International Space Station.
Zoom into more than 200,000 artifacts
in high definition, including the first recorded map of the Americas from
1508, and Albert Einstein’s letters,
never before published online.
Join us for our Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon on Sunday, March 10!
Four friends started Art+Feminism in response to studies that show that less than 10% of Wikipedia editors are women. This imbalance is reflected in the content of Wikipedia where women are underrepresented in articles. As Art+Feminism states:
The fact is when we don’t tell our stories or participate in the ways our history is preserved, it gets erased. Gaps in the coverage of knowledge about women, gender, feminism, and the arts on one of the most visited websites in the world is a big problem and we need your help to fix it.
I have been participating in Art+Feminism Edit-a-thons since the inaugural event in 2014 by providing training and technical help to new editors. When I joined The Corning Museum of Glass in 2016, I was excited to see that Rebecca Hopman and the Rakow Research Library hosted the event for the Southern Tier. Through her efforts, our Edit-a-Thons have drawn on the Rakow’s collections on the art, history, and science of glassmaking to contribute articles and improvements. This year will be no different, if you are able to join us.
Corning Museum of Glass is thrilled to share news of an exciting collaboration
on the forthcoming Netflix series, Blown Away, which will bring the art
and beauty of glassblowing to television screens around the world. A visually
compelling process often described as “mesmerizing” and “captivating,”
glassblowing has never been the subject of any major TV programming—until
The art glass competition show created by Marblemedia, an award-winning entertainment company based in Toronto, Canada, Blown Away features a group of 10 highly skilled glassmakers from North America creating beautiful works of art that are assessed by a panel of expert judges. One artist is eliminated each episode until a winner is announced in the tenth and final episode. A co-production with Blue Ant Media of Toronto, Blown Away will air on the Makefulchannel in Canada before coming to the Netflix platform worldwide later this year.
Today, The Studio announced the 2019 Artists-in-Residence recipients: twelve artists from around the world who will each spend one month at The Studio, researching and experimenting with new techniques to further their work. Additionally, two artists and two scholars have been selected for the David Whitehouse Research Residency for Artists and the David Whitehouse Research Residency for Scholars, respectively. These recipients will spend up to three weeks in the Rakow Library, utilizing the vast holdings to inform their practice or area of research. Each resident will provide a public Lunchtime Lecture during their time at the Museum, describing their inspirations and work at The Studio and the Rakow Library.
Translated literally, the Japanese word tonbodama means dragonfly ball. Since
2000, flameworker Shinobu Kurosawa has been making tonbodama beads that depict traditional Japanese landscape and
nature scenes in glass.
In her March 2019 residency, Kurosawa will use The
Studio’s resources to continue her research on tonbodama and expand her flameworking skills as she explores new
possibilities in Japanese beadmaking.
Today The Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) announced that 100 artists—representing 32 nationalities and working in 25 countries—have been selected to exhibit in New Glass Now, a global survey of contemporary glass and the first exhibition of its kind organized by the Museum in 40 years. The show, which will be on view from May 12, 2019, through January 5, 2020, will include works ranging from large-scale installations and delicate miniatures to video and experiments in glass chemistry, all of which demonstrate the vitality and versatility of this dynamic material.
Sarah Briland United States, b. 1980 Problematica (Foam Rock) United States, Richmond, Virginia, 2016 Foam, Aqua Resin, glass microspheres, steel, concrete stand With stand: 96.5 x 52 x 45.7 cm Photo: Terry Brown
In spring 2018, CMoG welcomed submissions of new works, made between 2015 and 2018 in which glass plays a fundamental role, for consideration by a panel comprising Susie J. Silbert, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Glass at CMoG, and three guest curators, including: Aric Chen, curator-at-large, M+ museum, Hong Kong; Susanne Jøker Johnsen, artist and head of exhibitions at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation, Denmark; and American artist Beth Lipman. More than 1,400 artists, designers and architects working in 52 countries—from Argentina, Australia, Indonesia and Japan to the United States, United Kingdom, and beyond—submitted works, which draw upon flameworking, glassblowing, casting, neon, carving, and kilnworking techniques, among others. Read more →