Photographing shiny, reflective objects...

We recently traveled to Connecticut to shoot shiny and reflective components for the world leader in CAD/CAM software MasterCAM .

Not only is MasterCAM a world leader, they work with some of the top companies out there, like:

• Boeing, Sikorsky, and Lockheed Martin
• Stryker medical
• Gibson, Taylor, Ovation Guitars
• Orange County Choppers
• Racing teams like Stewart Haas Racing, Waltrip Racing, and Cunningham Motorsports
• Segway
• RayBan

Just to name a few.

The actual purpose of the trip was to teach their person (with the title of "Intergalactic Marketing Overlord") how to shoot the kind of components their software (and clients) produce and of course regardless of the company, they are ALL shiny and reflective. The backup plan was that if things did not go well then I would shoot the parts.

Things went perfectly and the setup could not have been simpler, 4 "A" clamps, 3 white cards, 2 LED flashlights, foam core, some tape, light stands, and a couple gels.

We used hockey tape because it is FAR less expensive the gaffers tape, but much like gaffers tape it is incredibly strong and leaves no sticky residue behind.

A 1” wide role of gaffer’s tapes is in the $12 range, I bought the same size hockey tape for $1.

I would strongly suggest you test the tape you purchase before using it in a “live” shoot just to make sure it will work as you expect and not leave residue.

The "A" clamps were 99 cents (Home Depot or Lowes) and the 2'x3' sheet of foam core was $1.

In the shot at the very top of this post, we lit it with a single LED flashlight, and put a blue gel over a second flashlight and shined it into the center hole (to give it more "depth")

One of the things you need to be very careful to watch for is things being reflected in the item being shot, here is an example, first the "good shot" and then the bad, you can see the color of my shirt in the item.

It was lit with a "primary" flashlight and a second with a blue gel.

This image is the only one that we used more than two flashlights, it is a manifold for a car engine, there is a (cold) gas intake and a (hot) exhaust port, so we used a red and blue gels over the flashlights and held them over the ports to represent the temperature difference and the third flashlight was used to light the face of the object.

Here are a few more images we shot that day.

(click on any image to view larger and in a new window)

I think the results were as good as the setup was easy and in the video below we share both the gear and the setup.

If the video did not come through with your subscription email you can head back to the blog or directly over to our YouTube channel to view it.


Stephen Henry said...

Really good post. Love the pictures.

Scott said...

Thanks, glad you liked it...

Anonymous said...

Would you kindly mention the name of the tape that is like gaffers?

Scott said...

It is hockey Tape...

Anonymous said...

Great information. Another trick I use to keep myself from showing up in the reflections of shiny objects is to put a sheet overmyself (choosing a color that works with the shiny object and surroundings) with just a hole cut out for the lens.


Scott said...

That is a very cool idea!

Thanks for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

Great video. How did you keep the colored LED flash light from spilling out where you didn't want it.

Scott said...

To keep the light from spilling we made little snoots from printer paper.

Good question, sorry I did not include that info in the post.

Br14nne said...

Are you suppose to only use blue gel or can you use other colors? What would using reds or greens do?

Scott said...

We actually shot with blue and red gels that day, just only posted images with blue gels.

It was not intentional and please try any color gels as I am sure the results will be great.