Exercise 14: Shiny Surfaces

In this final exercise of the Light section I am to look at shiny surfaces and how photographing them can cause a problem with unwanted reflections. In Light, Science, and Magic says that there are three types of reflection:direct, diffuse, and glare [1] In this case and with my choice of subject being a shiny stainless steel kitchen spoon rest the main problem is reflection and its why the recommendation of using tracing paper to create a simple light tent (opposite to a snoot but on the camera lens rather than the light) that surrounds the subject from the lens. this creates a tight area around the subject and focal plane that ensures the light will pass through the diffuser. I used a piece of white card as the background, placing the subject on top with the camera above looking down at an angle. 

For the first image I have taken this without the use of any diffusion other than a soft box on the light source.

IMG_9945Taken in the garage it is clear to see not only the back drop placed behind it for a later photo session but also the roof and walls due to its convex shape. The rather dark appearance and obvious high and low lights make for a contrasted image that doesn’t successfully show the subject.


The same composition only with a tighter crop shows the subject with the tracing paper ‘lightbox’, the overall appearance of the subject is much softer now with the light being subdued and it is not as easy to pick out the light sources. I think the subject matter due to its shape and dips made this exercise harder than was necessary as it picked up a wider angle of reflections, although this is significantly cut down in the second image the lens is visible which isn’t ideal. However I do feel the use of a larger light box would allow for a wider range of compositional opportunities that would far exceed the form, texture, shape and colour of this image so I look forward to working on this technique further.

[1] Fil Hunter, Steven Biver & Paul Fuqua (2011). Light Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting, Focal Press. Page 34.


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