White Cup

For the first of our photo challenges we were asked to reproduce this image of a white cup.


At first glance it looks like the simplest thing to do but it was the worst. I had seen online about how to do black line lighting and went into the studio the first time with a detailed plan and while I wasn’t far wrong in the set up I couldn’t my photos looking anything like the picture above.

It was two more attempts in the studio before I got anywhere near close.

In the end, I set the studio up as below, with a light table between two tables and a lamp underneath to light the background. I used a second lamp to light the cup from above.

I used the histogram on the camera to help me light the background perfectly. Eventually the camera was set to ISO50, f22 and 125th shutter speed.


I had tried standing the cup upright, filling it with paper and liquid but still could not get the right effect. Finally I cut the rim from the top of one cup and placed it inside another, then I laid the cup on the table and photographed it from above. I used a small piece of blu-tac to prop up the bottom of the cup and make it level.

To create the black lines along the side of the cup I initially used sheets of black card to reflect shadows back onto the cup. I then photographed the cup through a pinhole in a black card but this didn’t work either. Eventually, with the help of Anete we found that black card, folded and curved under slightly imitating the curve of the cup worked best and gave the best black line. We managed to get it almost right on one side of the cup but couldn’t get it quite right on the other.

This is a contact sheet of some of the white cup photos.

White Cup Contact Sheet

Here is the final image next to the original.