Exercise: Shiny Surfaces

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The exercise on p163 is about taking photos of reflective surfaces. The instructions were a bit weird, take a shiny object to lay flat and photograph & light from from above. Then take a cone of tracing paper to put over the lens and the object (but not in the photo) to stop the shiny object from reflecting everything about. Right, so I duely got about a spoon and gave it ago. However I couldn’t get the tracing paper cone big enough or stiff enough to stay in place over the spoon out of shot. Finally after getting very irritated with such a silly request I managed to (sort of) do it with a five pence piece. The first photo is the 5p just lit with a bare desk lamp. The second 5p is lit with the silly cone of shame over (see the little set up shot).

5p bare light
5p under the cone
5p Setup tracing paper cone

What we’re actually seeing here is that in the first shot the light is not in the family of angles that would be a direct reflection on the 5p. Chapter 6 of the Light, Science and Magic book (see my bookshelf) explains this very well. In the ‘under the cone’ shot the 5p is reflecting its surroundings (the cone). This is actually better demonstrated in my next set of images, which dont use a cone but a light tent (better, more stable version of the cone).

 
 
 
 

Setup 1
 
  
 

The first image is just the two bare lights. You can see it reflects its surroundings completely.
Photo with Setup 1

Setup 2
I thought to soften the light with diffusers but you can see the brown cardboard in the left hand cup and my arm reaching out to hold the second diffuser in both the larger cups.
photo with setup 2

This was the same set up as before but I moved the diffusers closer to the cups, you see its removed the brown colours in the left hand cup because the centre of the diffuser is now firmly in the family of angles which the cup directly reflects. But you can still see me and the rest of the surround reflected.

Photo with setup 3

Setup 3

To fix that you need the whole object surrounded (like with the cone) so we can use a light tent. You can still see me and the camera in the opening from the tent though.

 
Photo from setup 4

Setup 5

The light tent comes with a little front piece with a slit in it for just such an occasion which attaches with velcro. This allows you to just poke the camera lens through the opening to minimise as much of the direct reflections as possible. Obviously we cannot not have the lens there, if we don’t point the camera at the object we don’t get a photo, but we’ve done what we can. I guess if you wanted too, at this point you could just clone that out in photoshop to tidy it up a bit.

Photo from setup 5

Setup 6

The reason I took this last photo, is I thought that the left hand cup was a bit bright, so I re-angled the lamp outside of the tent a bit more to my liking.

Photo from setup 6

In truth I prefer the wider angle of the first few photos, and the light tent with the front open, if you were to just make the opening black to remove the reflection of camera & me then it would look better I think than the weird frontage that the front flap reflection gives.

 

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