Technique for photographing shiny objects?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Thomas Bertilsson, Jan 15, 2005.

  1. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,265
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2003
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hello photographers!

    I just posted an image in the Technical gallery that shows my first attempt at two things at once. My main goal was to manage developing by inspection. That was easy enough. I used FP4+ and Rodinal 1+50 and got lucky in my first attempt.
    My second aspect of the experiment was to depict a pitcher that my wife purchased, a pitcher I find particularly beautiful. It has a shiny surface, and as I was setting the shot up, I realized that I was going to get a bazillion reflections of all kinds of things in my workshop. This brings me to my question - how does one photograph an object with a shiny surface without getting all those reflections?
    My mind travels along the lines of using black cloth to screen off any reflective surface. Another idea is to build a 'tent' of cloth which would act as a diffuser (kind of like the tent people use to photograph wildflowers) with only a hole for the camera lens. I have a few ideas, but wonder if anybody here has a good working method already.

    Thanks,

    - Thomas
     
  2. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

    Messages:
    4,049
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    do you have a polarizer, sometimes they can be effective in this type of situation, you can also use various types of cloth with a loose weave to cut down on the reflections over your lights. Are you shooting flash or continuous light?

    Dave
     
  3. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

    Messages:
    2,131
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've found shooting thru a a hole in a large black cloth, (nothing fancy, just black cloth from the fabric store) to be quite useful in situations like these. Polarizer might help out as well.
     
  4. Thomas Wagner

    Thomas Wagner Member

    Messages:
    74
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2004
    Location:
    Cowichan Bay
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Reminded me of two situations I was once faced with. An thin application of petroleum jelly killed the reflections. But, the real one was once having the same problem as mentioned photographing a flower. Laying on my stomach trying to get the perfect angle. A non-photographer suggested I just pick the flower and photograph it... never would have thought of that!

    Tom
     
  5. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,265
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2003
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks guys,

    I do have a polarizing lens, and will try it out. The black cloth is along the same lines as my own thoughts, and I have a 50ft roll of 5ft wide black cloth, so no shortage there. I'll give it a try.
    I will try to diffuse my lights a little more, (which are just regular flood lights). In this image they were pointing directly into the ceiling (dark wood), so I was surprised by the hot spots on the top part of the vase.

    Thanks for your hints,

    - Thomas
     
  6. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

    Messages:
    3,221
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Location:
    S.E. New Yor
    Shiny objects are certainly the most challenging to a commercial photographer. It must reflect something in order to appear reflective. If you tent a silver object completely in white, it will look white, you must introduce something to reflect, usually grey shapes, for it to be identifiable as a shiny silver object. You can use a removable matte spray but that too changes the appearance of the product, a shiny surface looks like a frosted surface. I sometimes used to paint it on locally to try keep the reflective character of the object while minimizing individual speculars.
    A polarizer will kill broad reflections but doesn't work on speculars. Perhaps if you polarized your light sources and also used a polarizer on your lens you might have some luck if your surface is flat.

    This is large silver cup, tented all around with seamless with darker strips hung inside to provide reflections. The inside rim is matte sprayed.
     

    Attached Files:

    • cup.jpg
      cup.jpg
      File size:
      41.6 KB
      Views:
      88
  7. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    18,002
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Neal's approach is what I would use. Start by surrounding the object with white cards or paper, and then add black cards or strips to give the object some shape. Alternately, you can look at what you have, and then add white cards to remove reflections and add fill where it's needed. Selective focus technique will also remove distractions.

    Be sure to check the groundglass or viewfinder as you work, so that you're seeing what the lens sees.

    This isn't a super-clean shot, like you might find in a jewelry advertisement, but it shows some of this kind of control. I decided to keep the reflections from the window to the right of the valve, but used a sheet of white paper on the left to fill the shadows and remove some distracting reflections from some bookshelves and other things in the room, and I kept the DOF short to soften some other lines--

    [​IMG]
     
  8. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    Location:
    Milan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You may wish to try something like this with asoft box above if needed. Move things around til you get what you like. Teh reflectors have to be much larger than the object and bigger as they are moved further away. The reflectors can be black, white silver (see where this is going?) or any colour you like.
     

    Attached Files:

  9. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    Location:
    Milan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Another way to do this would be two softboxes or defusers on either side (like bookends or similar to the reflectors in the last post) and a single light above to create a catch light' (this could be a bare 40watt bulb or modeling light)
     
  10. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,265
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2003
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks everybody for your help. I really appreciate it. I'll do some modifications to my setup and see if I can come up with another image.

    - Thomas
     
  11. Wally H

    Wally H Member

    Messages:
    160
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2004
    Location:
    NW Washingto
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    When photography ceramics such as you show my basic method is three soft boxes (I generally use louvers in them too): one right, one left and one above just out of the image area. I also use shiny reflectors behind the piece on each side to reflect light back at an angle toward the camera where it glances off the piece creating edge separation. Louvers in the softboxes will allow you to 1) keep light off the BG and 2) to use the overhead softbox to create a graduated BG on a sweep... In answer to your specific question, you will generally not be able to keep reflections such as the ones in the image you show from happening on shinny surfaces, however, if you use big enough softboxes and/or get them close the entire surface of the object being photographed will usually have the same reflection and it becomes much less of an issue (the object one notices then becomes those areas that do not have a reflection in them... ala, check the pots and pans advertisements out in the merchandise catalogs)...
     
  12. georgeg

    georgeg Member

    Messages:
    25
    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2004
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Try dulling spray. You can get it at your local photot supplier. You might be quite surprised.
     
  13. Doug Bennett

    Doug Bennett Member

    Messages:
    230
    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2003
    Location:
    Huntsville,
    Buy some cheap translucent fabric at a fabric store. Build a tent over the object, with a small opening to shoot through. Light the outside of the tent with strobes, or take it outside and use natural light. Are the highlights still too specular? Double up the fabric. What you're going for is something like this