Fluorescent light reflections


TPF Noob!
May 21, 2006
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Hi, new on forum please go easy !

I have started a business selling cars on eBay. I'm renting a warehouse type unit and have tried to build a photo area in one corner. I'm having problems getting decent images, the unit is lit by rows of fluorescent lights (4 rows of 6 lights) and there is only 1 switch so they are all off or all on. When there on I get horrible reflections of them from the car i'm shooting.

I'm thinking it would be better to keep them all off and light my car myself but not sure what lighting equipment to buy as i'm quite inexperienced. I'm using a Canon Powershot S70 on a tripod.

Any advice would be appreciated on this.

Well, the obvious way to light a car is to buy a big lighting rig. A company like Bowens would be able to supply you with a suitably powerful four head set up with some huge soft boxes. However, if you were going to do that, you'd want to sell that camera and buy a DSLR with a "better" lens for that kind of work. The total budget would be about £5k for something like that, which I would assume is both out of your desired budget and range.

The obvious answer without spending that kind of money is to take the pictures outdoors when the sun is shining.

Assuming waiting for the weather isn't an option, the other thing to try would be buying some work lights - halogen 1000W heads mounted on stands for doing building work etc. They would set you back about £30 per set. You'd want about three sets of them, but it would allow you to light the subject much better than the overhead lights. Buy a tripod - any old metal one, as this will help the shots come out sharper. http://www.lonestardigital.com/accessories/Home_Studio_Lights.jpg

EDIT: you've already got a tripod... sorry!
Get 1000W ones, not 500W I would say - shouldn't cost much more. Maybe get two tree ones and two floor ones?

I'd personally go with Ap mode and set the aperture to about f8.

Hi Rob,

Well they are 2 x 500w, so should I get three heads each with 2 x 1000w lamps on?

Bowens kit isn't really up to shooting cars. You need at least 5kJ, 10kJ is better - and that would mean a lot of heads.
Your best bet is to use tungsten. A couple of brunettes with some big white bounceboards overhead and to the sides would do it. Film lighting rather than photography lighting.
If you have the space you might consider building an infinity cove in the corner. It's not difficult and it would save you a heap of time.
An idea is to checker board black and white tiles for the floor. Kind of racing image / goes with cars.
MondeoST24 said:
I have tried to do something like this.

In the corner we have built a wooden frame and boarded it at right angles its 6m one way and 6m the other. I'm also ordering 36 square metres of this flooring.


It will all be flush and the same colour. Is this the kind of thing you meant?

Kind of.
The corners should be curved, though. You can do this with hardboard sheet.
You then paint everything white, including the floor.
When you light it and photograph it the effect is a little like being inside a pingpong ball - no floor, corners or background, just white.
Best way of doing things as you just get the car.
It's also capable of lots of modifications merely by controlling the lighting.
Trust me - it works. Specialised car studios all have them. It also has the advantage of being cheap to do.
Feel I have to put my two-pennies worth in here. Building a Cyclarama, which is what you are planning is not so easy. I've built one using hardboard [mdf] on the walls and floor and flexible plywood [as used in boat building] to get the curves. The corner is the difficult part. Then you have the problem of lighting as a car's surfaces are reflecting the light, and the ceiling also need to be completely even. If you do build it, bounce the light of the walls and ceiling, not directly at the subject, and remember, if you are using a tripod, light quality is much more important than light intensity. [I can not emphasise that enough]. Personally, I would be shooting outdoors as the cost to properly build a cyclarama is enormous. But DON'T shoot in sunshine. A dull day is definately preferable for shooting cars. Don't believe me, just take some shots outside in the same situation sunny and dull, and you will see the difference. Bright sun emphasises any blemishes or problems. Trust this helps. Philip
I've actually built quite a few myself.
It's best to not build in a corner but just against a flat wall and have one scoop at the bottom. Paint the wall, floor and scoop white. Put white reflective flats either side and hang a white board over the top.
You can do it cheap and cheerful because you are not doing it to an 'professional' level, the images are only going to appear on a web site and you can tweak it all with PS.
The cost will certainly be no more than the flooring being considered.
Even cheaper is to use a big roll of Colorama background paper. Hang it up on the wall and pull it down and then over the floor. The corner will naturally fall into an infinity curve.
Daylight will work too - but you will still have the problem of unwanted reflections and highlights.

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