Tips for Working with Reflections when Shooting Shiny Objects

Whether it is a shiny new iPad or a slick sports car, shooting reflective objects can be a nightmare. Usually you can fix this problem by shooting at an angle from the subject, but sometimes you either have to shoot directly towards the subject or there isn’t a good off-angle that works. Here are some quick tips to get rid of unwanted reflections.

Lets do a brief recap on how the physics of light work. (See illustration below.) Since we know that the angle of reflection (the direction of the reflected light) is equal to the angle of incidence (the direction of the incoming light) we can limit the number of unwanted reflections simply by thinking about where we put the camera, light sources and other equipment. A trick to visualize this is to bounce a laser pointer light off the object in question. (Be careful to not bounce it back into your eyes!) Then you can easily see where reflections are coming from in the room. This works great when trying to purposefully position highlights as well. Aim the laser at the part of the object where you want a reflection and then look for where the dot is reflected. This is where you will want to put a light or silk.

Hiding the Camera from Reflections

If the camera is visible in the shot, and you can’t move it, here is a simple and elegant way to solve the problem. Take a large piece of black foamcore (or similar material) and mount it so that the visible area of the camera rig is obscured by the foamcore. Then mark where the lens is in relation to the foamcore and then cut out a circle big enough to fit your lens through where you marked. Now your object should be reflection free! Try different colored foamcore for different colored reflections in the object.

Using foamcore to block reflections of the camera.
Using foamcore to block reflections of the camera.

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