OK first post, and straight in at the deep end, talking about my experiences with glass in LuxRender
For a long time I have been amazed at the shapes, reflections and optical effects you see in transparent materials. I have spent many an hour playing with random shapes in order to generate beautiful caustic photon patterns. Probably one of the most amazing examples I have seen is a scene known as Cubo, which was posted by psor on the LuxRender forums.
However, you will notice that the way the glass looks is fairly bland, this is because the scene uses 1 light source, and a black environment. In order to make glass come alive it is better to use a more complex scene and lighting method, such as a studio setup or a HDRI environment map.
LuxRender recently released its 0.7RC2, one of the features of 0.7 over the earlier 0.6 is the new, so called, volumetric glass. What is impressive about this is that it takes regular glass and adds absorption. So what? you might say. Well adding adsorption makes rendering liquids more realistic, and also rendering day to day coloured glass more realistic. Ever notice when you look at a pane of glass it is transparent? Then when you rotate it and look at its edge it is green? This can be simulated using the new glass material.
Here is my example using a model of a Persian vase I made while testing out some features of blender.
Both scenes use a studio setup to provide lighting, the only difference is the new glass material. It gives new depth to the vase and makes what looks more like a flat plastic to something which is rich and gives an often better representation of how coloured glass is.
A great tutorial on the new Glass features is found at partial geek
I am personally inlove with this new feature and have been trying to include it in every new experiment I do which involves glass materials.