Do you need to photograph metal objects? Do your photos get nasty blown out spots? Is there no texture at all?
Do you need to photograph metal objects but in doing so you get photos with nasty blown out spots and no texture at all?
In this article you will learn how to avoid this. Using a simple technique that is absolutely functional and requires only of equipment that you probably already own.
That’s right, you can obtain professional photographs of metal objects without having the tools of a photographic studio. In fact, with this technique, you will learn how you can take these photographs using basic tools.
Now, first we will explain the fundamentals on which this technique is supported. We will approach the technique itself and finally we will tell you exactly what to do. Ultimately you will then be able to photograph metallic objects in a professional way. Our guide provides a practical and affordable process.
One of the basics of Metal Photography: the Law of Reflection
(watch the video below)
Before entering the subject we will explain one of the fundamental aspects of Metal Photography. For that we will get a little theoretical, bringing up an old Physics law. Do not worry because it’s implementation will be quite simple, as you’ll see while reading this article.
equality between the angle of incidence and the angle of reflection.
What does this law of reflection have to do with metal photography?
Well, metal objects have reflective surfaces and these project light as a mirror would. So if such metal objects are photographed directly, their surface will reflect the light that was emitted by the flash. This will cause the resulting photos to have specular highlights. This makes it impossible to appreciate texture and background in such photos.
How to photograph shiny metal objects the proper way?
We can may conclude that when you want to photograph shiny metal objects, you should do it from a different angle than the camera’s, because
if you do it from the same one the light will bounce straight back at you, which naturally will be reflected in the photo -with the consequences already indicated.
So, what should be done to avoid this?
Here’s the answer: you must have a light source that is larger than your flash’s. You should also place it behind the metal object, in the same angle as your camera. That way, the light that is reflected when taking the photo will be bigger than the one emitted by your flash, and this will allow you not only to avoid the indicated specular highlights but also to put you in control of the photographed metal object’s reflections.
Of course, the foregoing could be carried out with a big softbox and a studio flash head, but not everyone has such equipment -or the means to acquire them.
However, we have good news!
A “home” technique for photographing shiny metal objects
There is a simpler way to carry out this procedure with cheaper implements: All you need is a flash, a trigger system to fire it off-camera, and a white
cardboard, the last of which would work as the bigger light source.
With this technique, you can also create texture in the metallic object’s background and surface (ie if you want to emphasize that one of these objects is wet,water drops will appear on your photo). This is achieved by playing with the family of angles that is created between the flash and the cardboard with respect to the photographed object.
In this way, a direct reflection will certainly occur but the light will not illuminate the metal reflective surface from the point of view of the camera resulting in photos in which it is possible to see the metal object in detail, even its texture and background, but, more importantly, without those undesirable blown out spots.
So, as you can see, although the theoretical basis of this technique may not be so easy to understand, its applicability is quite easy. It is also practical and affordable.
Our recommendation is that you put this technique into practice. You will then become more and more experienced in the art of photographing reflective metal objects.