Need help with highlights on glossy leather subject


TPF Noob!
Aug 27, 2015
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Seattle, WA
Can others edit my Photos
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So first of all, I am not the biggest fan of post processing. I'd rather get the shot right from the get go and use PS for basic necessities like cropping and such. That being said, I am a product photographer for a headwear company in Seattle. Recently, I was tasked with photographing leather ivy caps. I've taken pictures of leather caps before but the leather on this product is very glossy and gives off very strong reflections. I am having trouble keeping the highlights down. I know I could fix this is in PS but I want to know how I could get the shot without post processing. Please take a look at my set up and how my photos are coming and if you have any recommendations that would be great.

Equipment being used:
8' x 14' studio room (tiny I know, but I have to make do)
Canon 70D
Canon 18-135mm lens with polarizing filter
2 400w Strobes (one is utilizing a softbox and other has an umbrella)
white back drop
Product is on top of a table covered by the backdrop
reflector (using the white side to reduce extra glare)

My studio room is completely blacked out. The western and southern walls are completely black and the roof, northern, and eastern walls are white.
Photo on 8-27-15 at 3.35 PM.jpg


So thats my set up. Now my camera settings are:

1/4 sec exposure
Iso 160
Custom white balance (set with grey card)

Normally I would do:
1/250 sec exposure
Iso 100

But because I am trying out a polarizing filter to "reduce" some of that glare, I had to up my settings.

Anyways this is the shot I'm getting
Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 3.43.42 PM.png

These are the highlights that are grinding my gears
Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 3.43.42 PM copy.png

Now I know some people might think that highlights like these add depth or whatever, but I need them gone.

Can someone give me some advice on what I could do to eliminate or at least reduce these highlights?
The position of the product and camera is fixed so the only thing i can do is move the lights and the reflector around.
Im not the expert here, but my gut is telling me a light tent would solve your issue. Someone correct me please if I am off base here.

PS. I love the hat! Reminds me of the ones my dad used to wear when I was little.
Thats what I was going to try next! Do you have a recommendation on how to position the strobes for the light tent?
The hotter highlight is from the softbox's face and the light leaving the front of the softbox itself. Flag that off with black card, or re-position the softbox so it's well,well behind the cap.The front of the softbox is a light source itself...a brightly-illuminated, large surface.

The gentle, broad highlight on the central part of the hat, which does help to show shape, is coming off of the fill card. On the right hand segment of the hat, you have a curved umbrella from close-in, which created an ARC of highlight potential on a curved surface, and as you can see, the way the leather responds varies from the front of the hat, to the middle, to the rear of the hat.

At least this is what I think. Honestly, I think a shoot-through reflecting umbrella is a bad choice for this, for a couple reasons. The curve of the main light is not good, when combined with a curved subject. A softbox as main light reduces the angle of the main light down to ___one___ angle; the umbrella is lit-up across an arc...meaning reflections will vary. Incidence equals reflection. The BTS shots make the set look very,very cramped. At such close distances, light's rate of fall-off is exceptionally intense; from specular highlight, to diffuse highlight, to no highlights, in the span of inches.

Swap the softbox and umbrella positions, and flag off the backlight so none of it strikes the left side or central line of the hat, and the reflection issue ought to be much reduced.
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Derrel you have no idea... it is SO cramped haha and HOT from the lights. But at least the company gave me a designated room. I haven't considered the effects from the umbrella arc. Thanks
How about firing the two flash heads straight up at the ceiling in that tiny room?

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