The Trick On Getting Gradient Reflection On Reflective Surfaces (Cellphones, Laptops Etc.)

Jun 4, 2014

Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock is a Portrait and Product photographer based in the Philippines. His passion is teaching and sharing his knowledge in Photograpy and has been doing this for 6 years. You can follow his work on his web page, follow him on Flickr and if you happen to come by Cubao, Quezon City (To Manila, Philippines) he gives a great workshop!

The Trick On Getting Gradient Reflection On Reflective Surfaces (Cellphones, Laptops Etc.)

Jun 4, 2014

Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock is a Portrait and Product photographer based in the Philippines. His passion is teaching and sharing his knowledge in Photograpy and has been doing this for 6 years. You can follow his work on his web page, follow him on Flickr and if you happen to come by Cubao, Quezon City (To Manila, Philippines) he gives a great workshop!

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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.

Feature image

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.

 

Sample image 1
Sample 1
Sample image 1 with mirror
Sample 1 with mirror
Sample image 2
Sample 2
Sample image 1 with mirror
Sample 2 with mirror

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.

Sample image 1
Sample 1
Sample image 2
Sample 2

 

3. Here is the effect of placing a softbox on where your reflection is.

Sample 1 with softbox
Sample 1 with softbox
Sample 2 with softbox
Sample 2 with softbox

4. And here is the final touch, this is the effect you get by placing a gradient light source on the reflection

Sample 1 with gradient light
Sample 1 with gradient light
Sample 2 with gradient light
Sample 2 with gradient light

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.

A studio strobe pointed on the white seamless paper which is the reflection of the granite tile
A studio strobe pointed on the white seamless paper which is the reflection of the granite tile
Setup Shot
Setup Shot

Bouncing a speedlight on a piece of paper to get a gradient reflection on the screen.

iphone

 

Setup Shot
Setup Shot

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.

cto gel

Again the difference on using a direct light and a reflected light on the surface.

direct softbox

sample lens2

Another example of using a gradient reflection

Coffee gradient reflectionSo there you have it, next time you are dealing with a reflective surface product shot, feature out where its reflection is and place your lights there.

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Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock is a Portrait and Product photographer based in the Philippines. His passion is teaching and sharing his knowledge in Photograpy and has been doing this for 6 years. You can follow his work on his web page, follow him on Flickr and if you happen to come by Cubao, Quezon City (To Manila, Philippines) he gives a great workshop!

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11 responses to “The Trick On Getting Gradient Reflection On Reflective Surfaces (Cellphones, Laptops Etc.)”

  1. Joseph Padiernos Avatar
    Joseph Padiernos

    Great one Laya ;)

  2. Matt Owen Avatar
    Matt Owen

    Simple, and quite helpful. Thanks.

  3. Cesar Gonzalez Avatar
    Cesar Gonzalez

    Jose Castillo

  4. Andrew Sible Avatar
    Andrew Sible

    can you substitute black plexiglass for granite with suitable results?

    1. scatterbrained Avatar
      scatterbrained

      Black acrylic (aka Lexan, aka Plexiglass) is actually what most product shooters will have in their studio. Either black or white acrylic sheet; so yes, it will work just fine. ;) The benefit of black acrylic over using a granite tile is that if you want you can light it from underneath.

  5. yopyop Avatar
    yopyop

    Thank you, very nice and clear article.

  6. bollox Avatar
    bollox

    Nice pictures. Shame you lack the ability to properly explain clearly and step-by-step how to actually re-create it. Article is a load of Bollox and DIYP should be ashamed to public so low quality.

    1. mrniceguy Avatar
      mrniceguy

      it’s a step by step article. it can’t get any clearer than that. Have you even tried doing it? :)

  7. Cooper Avatar
    Cooper

    Having gradient reflection during taking a shot is not an easy task but the point is it can help in getting rid of post processing task. I have seen someone is criticizing about the steps but I can understand the fact that one cant be enough to teach the whole process!

  8. Micle Avatar
    Micle

    i have comment about you ‘YOUR PICTURES ARE SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL’

  9. annie Avatar
    annie

    Getting gradual reflection on shiny surface is tough, I tried many times with my shots to bring out the gradient effect but failed. The way you showed it with the mirror and the paper is quite interesting. I do agree that you show it step by step, the process was a bit clumsy. But still a lot of information’s.