Photography of Shiny Objects

by William Lulow

Shiny objects present challenges for the product photographer. The most obvious one is that they reflect just about everything in the studio. So, the first rule is that you must shoot these objects with all the extraneous lights in the studio turned off. The idea is that you must have a dark background.

The second thing is that you want the lights that are reflected to be as uniform as possible. I usually use two light banks that are roughly the same size. I place them basically on each side of the camera so that they will create smooth, long reflections. Umbrellas and other round shaped light sources will only add to the confusion of reflections.

Often, I place long (48 inch) black cards near the camera and near the positions of the light banks to minimize any reflection that might be generated by my standing near the camera. I double check everything on my laptop after the initial exposure. I’m looking to get it right in the camera so as to minimize any retouching I might have to do later. Every once in a while, I might have to drape a black cloth over the camera and the tripod with a hole cut out for the lens, of course.

You want to control the reflections as much as possible. You will also get reflections of everything else that is in the shot, so keep props and other objects to a minimum.