How to photograph Reflective products and light your way to success

Shooting Reflective products can cause problems for even the most seasoned photographers. So when using our studio it’s important to understand some of the best practices to make your shoot go smoothly and get the best results.
 

Backlighting

This is incredibly important for shooting any reflective surface but especially so when it comes to clear or coloured glass. Using the right backlighting will give you the most flattering and visually striking image, creating a perfectly clear appearance.

Using the Styleshoot machines to create a backlit setup

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The StyleShoot machine makes it easy to get a backlit setup with automatic lighting. And we have every tool available in the studio ready to be used.

However, shooting glass products isn’t quite as simple as styling/arranging and shooting.

Setup:

  1. If you’re shooting on the vertical - position your product on the plinth, or if you’re shooting on the horizontal - arrange your product on the flatbed.

  2. Check how it appears on the iPad screen, styled as you like.

  3. You then need to place a piece of translucent material (paper often works fine, otherwise we have plenty of diffusers in the studio) behind the product. The reason for this is because the software of the machine automatically cuts the background out it can sometimes find it hard to distinguish between background and product, leading to a distorted image.

  4. Control the side lights. Depending on how much light you want and the angle you will need to adjust the four lights individually.

  5. Diffuse. You will want to then diffuse the lights from both sides. This will stop any harsh reflections on the front of the glass product. Angling the diffusers correctly on both sides will direct soft light onto the front, sides and top of the product.

 These glass products by designed in Colour were shot on our horizontal machine, which gives an interesting angle.

These glass products by designed in Colour were shot on our horizontal machine, which gives an interesting angle.

You want to avoid any asymmetrical light reflections, white spots or anything too harsh.

For bolder outlines and colours, try using black foam boards to either side of your product. This will saturate your colours and emphasise the edges of your glassware.

You can adjust the camera settings on the iPad which controls the StyleShoot machine.

Finally, before you begin double check that your product has been cleaned with glass cleaner and is free of dust and smudges. This will help to make your post-production editing even faster.

Post-Production Processing

Backlighting should help you avoid any imperfections on your glass product, which will greatly simplify your post-production workflow. If any spots or smudges are visible, clone them out. After that, work on desaturating and cleaning up your background to pure white.

These simple, quick touch-ups will make your images look much more professional.

 Using mats underneath gives these clear glass products sharp defined outlines, they also give the images context, whilst the light reflections add depths.

Using mats underneath gives these clear glass products sharp defined outlines, they also give the images context, whilst the light reflections add depths.

Photographing reflective metal or products with glass features.

When you photograph glass products you over expose the glass itself, but with other reflective products, items for example sunglasses, or metal bottles, you can’t do this because you would lose details and colour from the image.

These types of products need to be lit differently so that customers will be able to see the full product that you are trying to sell.

 These Chilly's Bottles were all shot independently which is why the light reflections are the same on all of them

These Chilly's Bottles were all shot independently which is why the light reflections are the same on all of them

Setup

  1. Background. Again it might be necessary to diffuse the machines backlighting to avoid the machine cutting out glass detail. If the glass is quite dark or isn’t being directly lit by the machines back lighting then this may not be necessary.  For a rounded reflective surface, the StyleShoot machine can sometimes find it difficult to determine the edges of the product. If that turns out to be the case diffuse the backlight.

  2. Diffusers. You will want to diffuse the side lights allowing just a soft bit of light to fall evenly on the top, sides and front of the product.

  3. Depending on how you want the product lit you may want to make some of the lights brighter or dimmer than others. For example, you might want to shoot the product at a slight angle, so to control the reflection you would dim the lights on the respective side.

Post-Production Processing

Lit properly you should only need minimal post-production.

Make sure your product is free from smudges and dust specks, the background is pure white, ( or even better if you can get away with it, use our STyleShoots machine to the fullest f their capabilities and automatically generated cut-out PNG with no background at all) with no shadows or spots, and the color of your product is accurate.

This is also the time to fix any defects or damages to the sample you weren’t able to fix prior to shooting, such as hardware scratches and scuffs.

Don’t be afraid add shadows if needed.

Conclusion

There are of course many as to light reflective products, with or without the StyleShoot machines. But these simple tricks can help you easily get images to impress customers and stand out from the crowd.

For your post-production work it is best to get a professional which will save you time and get you the best results possible. Sometimes they will need more extensive work which can be time consuming and tedious.

We are always ready for you and your products at UShoot. If you have products that need shooting get in contact and let us see how we can help you.