Getting gradual reflection on a shiny surface is not trivial. It is not hard, but you have to know how it is done (which you will once you’ve read this post :). This is one of my favorite techniques when shooting products with a granite tile, and it gets that gradient reflection on a reflective surface every time.
I got a couple of messages on Flickr a while back asking me how to get a gradient effect on an iphone shot I did before. So here is a step by step lighting tutorial on how to achieve this kind of lighting and where you can use it.
1. The first thing you need to know when you are working with a reflective surface is that it acts like a mirror. This means that the actual reflection is not just set by what you shoot, but it also depends on the camera position.
You could actually place a small mirror on the surface of the subject just for checking out the what the actual reflection is.
2. Here is the trick: the location of the reflection hint you on where to position your lights. You want your light to be reflected. More specifically, you want the entire reflection to be covered with a large light source.
3. Here is the effect of placing a softbox on where your reflection is.
4. And here is the final touch, this is the effect you get by placing a gradient light source on the reflection
5. There are a couple of ways to get a gradient reflection on the surface.
Normally for my granite tile shots, I use a white seamless paper as the reflected surface and place a bare flash towards it. So it is reflecting a light on where your mirror is pointed.
Bouncing a speedlight on a piece of paper to get a gradient reflection on the screen.
I wiped the granite tile with water to get a little bit of pattern in the tile and also used a CTO gel pointed on a seamless white paper to get this effect.
Again the difference on using a direct light and a reflected light on the surface.
Another example of using a gradient reflection