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Thread: Product photograph - Highly reflective

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    Question Product photograph - Highly reflective

    Hi Guys,

    I'm a product photographer but I had a few issues with a product a client asked me to photograph recently.

    The product is a large circular lamp with a ring of high intensity LEDs around the peripheral. When switched on the central section lights up bright orange and and the high intensity white LEDs flash intermittently.

    The product has an acrylic domed front.

    The client asked me to photograph the product revealing the detail of the product's construction, whilst also demonstrating the brightness of the LEDs and the surface of the dome, without showing reflections.

    This was pretty challenging. In the end i merged two photographs because of the sheer brightness of the LEDs. My client was happy but they did say it wasn't quite what they had wanted.

    My question is how would I have photographed the product to demonstrate the shape of the dome (when shooting straight on) without showing any reflections?



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    Quote Originally Posted by andycain View Post
    ...My question is how would I have photographed the product to demonstrate the shape of the dome (when shooting straight on) without showing any reflections?
    You can't have it both ways. Its either with reflections and the dome having a perceivable domed shape or no reflections and the dome looks like a flat disk, period.

    Sounds like a case where more discussion with the client was necessary, preferably before the shoot. The compromise is probably a shot where the dome has some reflections but broad simple reflections not much brighter than the dome's surface, just enough to create the impression of its shape without looking like reflections of some light source.

    The double exposure trick you used is just about the only way to handle subjects that need to be revealed by normal reflected studio light but also are light sources themselved. There are many ways to accomplish the double exposure, but merging two separate images gives the best control. Its also a good way to deal with situations where there are two difference colored light sources such are an architectural interior with both fluorescent and tungsten lighting.
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    Did you consider using a polarizing filter

    Cheers, Don

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    Get a can of Dulling Spray, removeable, Krylon 1310. Spray the reflection to dull it then go back with a rag or Qtip to remove areas that you want a slight reflection to bring the shape back. Every product photographer should have a can of this. You can have it both ways!!! Can find it at an art supply store.

    Gregg

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    In the end I did tell the client that it would be tricky but I would do my best. I opted for the flat surface look in the end and like I said, the client was happy but it wasn't ideal. I made them aware that what they had asked for was virtually impossible.

    The idea of using a polarisiing filter is interesting though...

    prehaps a polarised light source and a polariser on the camera?

    I'll have a look at the spray. Sounds interesting but I don't think I would want to spray some random untested spray onto this companies secret prototype!

    Might buy some to trial it.

    Thanks for the feedback!

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    It is possible to do this just by set-up and lighting, though it will be a bit fiddly.
    My inclination, and the way I approached every shoot of this kind, would be to shoot it flat and then do my version (with a bit more 'oomph!').
    Then you present them with the first one, tell them it was a real bitch to do, wait for them to find fault, say "I thought that's what you'd say so I had a bit of a play around. I know it doesn't quite stick to the brief but the product was so exciting/inspiring I just had to try it."
    I've never known a client who didn't fall for it. The trick is to make the first one boring. Then the second one just looks that much better.
    Professional Photography is 99% perspiration and 110% bullsh*t!
    Don't just say nothing - say 'bokeh'!

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    Quote Originally Posted by andycain View Post
    In the end I did tell the client that it would be tricky but I would do my best. I opted for the flat surface look in the end and like I said, the client was happy but it wasn't ideal. I made them aware that what they had asked for was virtually impossible.

    The idea of using a polarisiing filter is interesting though...

    prehaps a polarised light source and a polariser on the camera?

    I'll have a look at the spray. Sounds interesting but I don't think I would want to spray some random untested spray onto this companies secret prototype!

    Might buy some to trial it.

    Thanks for the feedback!
    As far as the spray is concerned. I've been useing it for 20yrs. I found out about it thru Brooks Inst. Get a can and light a glass with some hot spots and just mist it on, then take a damp cloth and wipe it off...works great.
    Gregg
    Last edited by Gregg Jacob; 04-25-2009 at 06:25 PM.

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    Didn't ever consider fixing it up in Photoshop?

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    In the "old days," I'd suggest a view camera with the lens shifted off axis. Hang some paper in front of the product and cut a hole for the lens.

    This shot on film was done for a text book cover. I did this years ago using this method.

    –Pete

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    Reflective products do my head in.
    I work for a company as a product photographer. We have our own in house design department. Quite often I get given highly reflective products. I have found that 90% of the time, you have no choice but to do quite a bit of post photography editing to get the image looking how it should. These are all shot with a D700

    Here are some examples of the products I have to deal with.


    With this lamp, I found it easier to bounce the lights of the walls on either side of the lamp. I draped the black because we have found that it tends to bring back the reflective look of the product. Without the black, it just ends up looking flat. I always shoot the shade separately and then drop it into the image. It helps to keep an even light across the base. I have tried doing these in the lighting tent but I find that the image comes out looking too flat.

    After editing it looks like this


    And once on the packaging, like this


    This chrome ceiling fan is one of the hardest I have had to do. Each piece was shot separately. Base and motor, light, 3 blades (one at a time) and then I put the image together using photoshop. Was tricky getting everything sitting on the right angle. The black was also added to the product in Photoshop as were the reflections.


    Sometimes, if the weather is right, I will take a product outside and shoot it without any studio lights.

    Once again, the highlights were added in Photoshop.

    I consider myself far from being a great photographer. I have had no training. I was thrown in the deep end 5 years ago and had to learn it all by reading and trial and error. Any tips/criticism is welcome.

    Cheers,

    Mick

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    merging two shots was my first impression, one with the lights off one with them on. As for the refection I like the off center and a white paper with a hole to shot through. You could try a longer lens to make sure you and the camera are not reflected.
    Scapes - land, city or whatever and B&W are my passion.

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    Quite often, if the light is required to be on we will merge a couple of shots together. The customer just needs to be made aware that you can't have it both ways.

    These are some examples of images we have created merging 2, sometimes 3 shots together. Obviously, highlights then have to be added in Photoshop










    Last edited by mickmac; 03-24-2011 at 06:08 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hertz van Rental View Post
    Professional Photography is 99% perspiration and 110% bullsh*t!
    Great quote!! haha

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    I have to deal with highly reflective surfaces all the time, often with compound curves that reflect everything in the room.
    It can drive a person nuts at times. However, when I found the book Light - Science & Magic and understood their notion of 'the family of angles,' something clicked. Now I can 'see' what I need to do to tame the reflections. Unfortunately a polarizer won't help with reflected light, only refracted light. I use a polarizer for all these shots but for other reasons than impacting how the steel turns out.
    Here's an example:



    Don't eliminate all the reflections or it will look un-natural. In the example above you can see how I handled that. Great pics in this thread and great info too.

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    I just got finished shooting a shot for a client that just about drove me off the deep end.

    If you ever ask me what is the worst. I will reply Chrome or white objects or transparent. So the client said, I have just what you need as the test shot. It is chrome with white and transparent, and we want the bulbs burning as well!
    Here is a still of the final 360 Product Spin

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