November 15, 2010

Cactus Monday in a Jar plus Photographing Glass

I have a haworthia living inside a glass jar for about a year now, and I've decided to overwinter some of my smaller succulents in glass jars.  They're still in their pots, but they're in 1/2 gallon Anchor jars I bought at Target with a bit of horticultural charcoal in the bottom.  These plants shouldn't be watered during the winter, but they need higher humidity than what's available in my house.

 The haworthia hasn't grown all that much since going in the jar, but it requires so little care that I didn't bother to take it out for the summer.  It's just been chuggin' along at tortoise speed.  Plus I think it looks quite nice in a jar.

I have a Euphorbia that didn't get enough sunlight because I stupidly thought, "Oh, this is being sold as a houseplant, so I should put it in the shade."  Sigh.  The plant got lanky and sickly, so I took cuttings.  Now these baby euphorbia in their baby pots are going to be cozy in their own little environment until it warms up again in the spring.

I also have a couple orchids in jars, and they've been quite content.  If they were to flower, I'd have to remove the lids a bit, but because they haven't been fertilized and generally neglected, there's not much chance of that.  In the spring, I'll take them outside for a breather and some fertilizer, and hopefully they'll decide to bloom then.

Photographing glass is a nightmare, and it's even trickier to photograph something behind glass.  There's glare and blur and weird reflections (frequently of the camera and the photographer) and lighting issues, but fortunately, there are many techniques to photographing glass.

To take the studio-style photographs above, I turned off all artificial light sources in the house and diffused the natural light coming in through the windows with a white shower curtain.  The diffusion cut down on the glare and weird reflections, and it improved the light by softening it.

The backdrop was a sheet of metallic poster board leaned against a chair I'd put on top of the table, and the jars kept the poster board in place.  I bought the poster board at Hobby Lobby for $0.80, I think, and the silver creates a nice effect with lighting and shadows.  I also have a gold sheet that is also quite nice for amber hues.

Of course, I had to use a tripod because all of the shots had exposure times longer than 1/60 of a second, which is the minimum for photographing without blur.  Some of the exposures were 2 seconds.  I also had to set my camera on a timer, so that the action of clicking the shutter didn't create a blur I was trying to avoid by using a tripod. For some of the angles, I had to climb on top of a chair to focus and adjust the camera.

The house is a bit messy because I'm cleaning.  My husband and I are going to Tennessee for Thanksgiving, and there's no better way to procrastinate than by doing random tasks we meant to do months ago and general-non-cleaning activities like setting up a quick studio, photographing some plants, and posting on the blog.

Happy Cactus Monday!

For more Cactus Monday posts, visit Teri's Painted Daisies.


  1. I love your jars! They look pretty good in there and must keep comfy and warm. Thanks for showing your setup. I always wondered a way to do shots like that.

  2. You just gotta love Target! I've always been intimidated by orchids but I do like your idea of housing them in a big jar. It's a nice design element.

  3. Those jars are a great idea! I love what you did with them.
    I hear you on photographing glass.


  4. I like those jars, too. They look pretty with plants in them. Also, I would rather blog than do any type of cleaning...especially laundry!

  5. Your plants look great in those jars! Love hearing how you got the great shots!!!

  6. I'm glad the jars are such a hit! It's amazing how everything looks more precious when under glass.


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