Lighting glossy metallic surfaces is tricky, but here’s how to nail it every time
Lighting glossy metal objects can be really tricky when you incorporate them in photos. They don’t only reflect light in a pretty harsh way, but they also reflect the scene. In this video, Jay P. Morgan teaches you how to light shiny metal objects so you make them look their best in your shots. He guides you through his setup and gives an example of lighting a BB gun in a studio.
In a recent video from The Bite Shot, you saw a couple of tips and tricks for lighting silverware in food photography, and I believe it’s complementary with Jay P.’s video. With shiny metallic surfaces, you want to avoid harsh lighting bouncing off them into your camera. This can be done by using a large and soft light source such as a V-flat. Alternatively, you can use a large softbox – as long as the light source is large and soft. In Jay P.’s example, you can see how he lights a metal teapot with the light bounced off the V-flat.
If you decide to reflect the light, keep in mind that your metal object will be lit by the angle of incidence, which is around 45 degrees. A handy trick to check this angle is to use a mirror, placing it next to your object. This way, you’ll know where to place the reflective surface in relation to the light and the metal object.
Check out Jay P.’s video to see the entire lighting setup for a studio shot, where he photographs a model holding the BB gun. Jay P. also shares helpful diagrams for lighting metal, and you can sign up here to get them.
[Laws of Light: How to Light Metal | The Slanted Lens]
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.