Photograph an Etched Glass Trophy — on your Mobile Phone

Using just two smartphones and two apps — you can achieve a professional looking image of a glass trophy

At Smartphone Photography Training (previously named Better Mobile Photos) — we are thrilled to be an award winner in the category Innovative Idea 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. We have a simple technique for you that only requires:

  • Android or iOS phone
  • Second mobile phone as a light source
  • Snapseed and Retouch apps (both available on Android and iOS)


Photo 24-3-17, 12 35 02 pm
Photo 24-3-17, 12 35 02 pm
Shine a Phone Torch from Underneath
  1. If like me, you are really excited and cannot not 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 the positioning to achieve different lighting effects.

*BONUS TIP: Place a black screen behind the phone to minimise any reflection.

Shooting Technique

Shine the torch of a second phone through the trophy
Shine the torch of a second phone through the trophy
  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 may 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

Touch Retouch Icon
Touch Retouch Icon
TouchRetouch App

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.

Snapseed available on Google Play and iTunes.

TouchRetouch available on Google Play and iTunes.

Snapseed Photo Editing
Snapseed Photo Editing
Tune Image
  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 and swipe up into the Filters section. 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 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, then Tune Image. Each photo will be different. I found my image benefited from less brightness and shadows and more ambiance, highlights and a bit of warmth. At any time, you can tap and hold on the icon in the top right corner to see the before and after. Tap on the tick to accept your changes.
Sharpening an image in Snapseed
Sharpening an image in Snapseed
Add some Sharpening

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.

Transfer to Touch Retouch
Transfer to Touch Retouch
Open image in TouchRetouch

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. By 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.

Add a lens flare to your image
Add a lens flare to your image
Make Adjustments to the Lens Flare

*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!

Originally published at Smartphone Photography Training.

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About The Author: Mike James is the founder of Smartphone Photography Training. You can get in contact on Facebook, Linkedin or Instagram.

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Learn to create visual impact in your Smartphone photos; by applying photography and phone specific techniques & the best photo editing apps available.

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