Art of Photography

Rob Townsend

Exercise – Shiny surfaces

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Brief:

Take a photo of a highly reflective object against a plain background, with direct lighting. Then using a cone made of tracing paper covering the space between the lens and the object, repeat the shot, experimenting with the position of the lighting, with the intention of minimising the reflection.

Results:

I chose a metal bottle stopper (which looked surprisingly grimy close-up, so I’m glad we don’t actually use it…) and placed this on a black cloth backdrop, and shot from above as suggested.

1. Direct light:
Significant reflection here, showing the tripod, the light, the camera strap and the photographer.

Direct light

1. Direct light

2. With diffuser cone, lit straight down:
Much less reflection straight away, and the background is rendered darker. Reflection of camera still visible as a dot in centre of sphere.

With diffuser cone, lit straight down

2. With diffuser cone, lit straight down

3. With diffuser cone, light moved further away:
Moving the light further away had the effect of reintroducing a little reflection in the sphere, but more notably the clear line down the length of the conical spike.

With diffuser cone, light moved further away

3. With diffuser cone, light moved further away

4. With diffuser cone, lit horizontally across the top of cone:
Less reflection than the last one, but not quite as smooth as number 2, where the light was pointing straight down. Camera reflection ‘dot’ most prominent in this one.

With diffuser cone, lit horizontally across the top of cone

4. With diffuser cone, lit horizontally across the top of cone

The most successful reduction of glare was in shot number 2, where the light was in the same straight-down position as in shot 1, just with the addition of the conical tracing paper cone.

What I’ve learned:

This was another interesting exercise in controlling light. The ability to reduce glare on shiny objects is a useful technique.

I am however glad to get to the end of the exercises in this section! Especially these photographic light ones; I’m not really one for using inside lighting like this. It’s been good to get out of my comfort zone but it hasn’t really changed my mind about indoor lighting. I like light, I just don’t like lightS so much ;-)

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