Eliminating Reflections on Rounded Product Surfaces

TheRisingArcher

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Hi. I'm a product photography newb. I have a Canon EOS Rebel with an 18-55mm kit lens, a super white paper backdrop, a set of softbox lights with diffusers, and a boomstand. I have a a couple of DIY diffusers and some tabletop lights, too.

Things are going pretty well. I've overcome a lot of beginner mistakes to crank out some nice photos, considering my equipment and experience. One thing I haven't been able to solve yet is the reflection of my softbox lights on my target. For flat surfaces, this is easier. I can position my lights such that these reflections are not picked up in the shot.

However, for rounded surfaces things get complicated. I've attached photo that suffers from the textbook issue I'm talking about.

flamenco-back.jpg


This is the back of a guitar. The rounded neck is clearly reflecting the light shining upon it. I see this effect in many professionally photographed guitars. Still, I'm not a fan.

Can anyone offer a few pointers as to how I can reduce or eliminate these from my shots? Thanks.
 

photo1x1.com

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Hi and welcome to the forum.
These kind of reflections are actually not possible to avoid during shooting, because reflective curved surface does reflect any light that you use for lighting your subject.
Things you could do i:
  1. Photoshop - I´m afraid that is the most common option
  2. DIY (or buy) light shapers that fit your needs and leave a reflection that you like (talking about striplights, etc.) Softboxes usually have a small light fall off in the corners, and not perfectly rectangular shapes. If that is what bothers you rather than the light itself, you can create light shapers with black cardboard. Lots of options there. Or you buy really (and I mean really ;)) expensive gear.
  3. Hardly used and very often not working well for this kind of work: polarizer filters.
 

zombiesniper

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Another option is since the neck is really only curved side to side, play with the how high the lights are or angle of the guitar and see if you can get and even light and have them high/low enough not to reflect in the neck.

P.S. Those left 3 strings look like they're going to sound funny.
 

Derrel

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Highlights help to show and define shapes, contours, textures...they are NOT alwyas bad or undesirable. Angle of incidence equals angle of reflection. An alternate option is to create a BIG light source, and move it clsoe enough that it's entire size refelcts as a diffused highlight, over the entire guitar. Maybe bounce the key light off of a large wall, and let it hit the guitar in-directly, not directly coming from the softboxes. The wall would be the large source, not something smalkl, like softbox sized.
 

smoke665

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The polarizing filter might help, though as the light direction decreases from 90 degrees to camera the effect would be less, and there are some differences in color rendered. Another option might be to lay it flat on a light table, and use a tent. Shoot through an opening in the top?
 

480sparky

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Polarizing sheets on the lights, polarizing filter on the lens, 90° to each other.
 

photo1x1.com

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I might be wrong and I have never tried that, but when I learned photography, people told us that this technique would eliminate all of the light. Just like on those variable ND filters which essenially are two polarzing filters.
Polarizing sheets on the lights, polarizing filter on the lens, 90° to each other.
 

480sparky

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I might be wrong and I have never tried that, but when I learned photography, people told us that this technique would eliminate all of the light. Just like on those variable ND filters which essenially are two polarzing filters.
Polarizing sheets on the lights, polarizing filter on the lens, 90° to each other.

No polarizer is 100% effective. Some light still gets through. You'll need to radically up the exposure, but if that's what it takes......
 

qmr55

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This was like 3 minutes in photoshop, but I think if you're not looking to try the above options for different lighting options (or unsuccessful at it) this could be a way to do it.


flamenco-back.jpg
 

TCampbell

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You can buy a product called "Krylon Dulling Spray". It's designed for photography & video. It sprays a temporary dull hazy finish onto a surface (it wipes off easily) to substantially reduce reflections on shiny surfaces.

I think hair spray also works (although I don't know if hair spray would react with the lacquered finish of the guitar... I have seen hair spray used on glass... which is no trouble to remove.)
 

Armadillo222

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Hi. I'm a product photography newb. I have a Canon EOS Rebel with an 18-55mm kit lens, a super white paper backdrop, a set of softbox lights with diffusers, and a boomstand. I have a a couple of DIY diffusers and some tabletop lights, too.

Things are going pretty well. I've overcome a lot of beginner mistakes to crank out some nice photos, considering my equipment and experience. One thing I haven't been able to solve yet is the reflection of my softbox lights on my target. For flat surfaces, this is easier. I can position my lights such that these reflections are not picked up in the shot.

However, for rounded surfaces things get complicated. I've attached photo that suffers from the textbook issue I'm talking about.

View attachment 143699

This is the back of a guitar. The rounded neck is clearly reflecting the light shining upon it. I see this effect in many professionally photographed guitars. Still, I'm not a fan.

Can anyone offer a few pointers as to how I can reduce or eliminate these from my shots? Thanks.
Well,
It has been mentioned earlier that reflections provide shape, they also provide the illusion of depth. I can see where your problem is not desirable as the instrument stands. Take a look at your source of lighting, even though you are using soft boxes they represent a point light source to the curved neck.
If your studio has an 8 foot high ceiling and painted white try pointing both light boxes at the ceiling to get a much wider diffusion of light illuminating the guitar. Vary the light power on one strobe to create a soft shadow to one side. With luck and trial and error methods you will end up with one very thin white reflection very close to the fretboard.
 

Derrel

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Armadillo is giving you good advice regarding increasing the SIZE of the light source, and about doing some highlight and reflection control, which is a lot of what commerical product photography is about: highlight and reflection control. As he mentioned, the softboxes are acting as small light sources; a big, white wall, or ceiling, would be many,many times larger in area that the softbox faces, and if lighted indirectl,y the ceiling or a wall woukd become a LARGE source of light, and you could likely get the guitar positioned so that the reflection pattern would be attractive, and to your liking.

One thing I tewll people: compose the photo, camera on tripod and locked down. THEN, have an assistant literally move the light through a range of positions, as you STAY at the camera, and literally LOOK at what different light positions do. For the beginning shooter, this way of learning how to place lights can be very helpful. Without an assistant, you can not literally SEE the different effects as they happen.
 

unpopular

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Angle of specular reflection is the cross product of the geometric normal and angle of incident. So, the maximum specularity will occur when the light source is viewed at a 90 degree angle relative to the surface. The falloff depends on the material properties itself.

So, you can sort of appreciate why a rounded shape would be difficult to get completely flat. No matter where you are, there will be somewhere that the light is going to be at 90 degrees.

As Darrel points out you can make the light source larger (err, more diffuse) so that all normals are equally illuminated from every angle, but that's only practical to an extent.
 

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