Silverware can be a beautiful and often important addition to food photos. But the trouble with it is that it reflects light, and these reflections can be so strong that they ruin your shots. Fortunately, there are ways to manage these reflections, and Joanie Simon of The Bite Shot will teach you how to do it in this fantastic video.
We differentiate three types of reflections: direct, diffused and direct polarized. Put simply, anything shiny creates direct reflections, and these reflections are as bright as the original light source. With diffused reflections, the light hits the surface and reflects into the camera as, well, diffused light. It’s not that bright, and it’s not diffused reflections what gives us trouble – it’s the direct ones.
Another concept to have in mind is “the family of angles,” and Joanie explains it thoroughly in the video. The position of light, the camera and the reflective surface all influence the angle of reflection you’ll have in the photo. Sometimes, you can simply change the angle of light and avoid having a direct reflection in the photo. But other times, this won’t be possible. You want to set the lighting to be flattering for the food, not the silverware, so you have to find another way to manage reflections. And there are a few tricks.
First, and probably the most obvious one – move the silverware. Slightly tilt it or move it to avoid having direct reflections in the photo. A handy trick for knives is to use a bit of museum putty to slightly tilt them and keep them in place. Forks are a bit more demanding because they have a curve. But, you can simply use a flag to block some of the light hitting them, and it can be a simple piece of black foamcore.
When it comes to managing reflections coming from spoons, this is the trickiest part. You have a polished curved surface which reflects the scene around it. Joanie suggests three tricks for dealing with spoons. First, use a large, diffused light source to make the light reflections as soft as they can be. Remember those direct polarized reflections? Well, the second trick is to use a polarizing filter, although you’ll still see the reflection of the camera. The third trick is cunning, but it gets the job done: make the spoon look less polished by using a matte spray. This way it will create a more diffused reflection of light, plus you won’t get to see the reflection of the camera.
Do you use any of these tips to manage reflections in food photography? And do you have any tricks of your own to share?
[Fixing Reflections on Silverware for Food Photography | The Bite Shot]