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Archive 2012 · Minimizing Reflections
  
 
campyone
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p.1 #1 · Minimizing Reflections


I'm doing some volunteer work, photographing artifacts from a museum's collection, many of which are glass and metal. I'm almost exclusively an outdoor photographer and have done little work with artificial lighting. But when I have done that kind of thing reflections from glass and metal have been a major problem. Since I'll be making hundreds if not thousands of photographs for the museum I'd like to learn something about creating a simple lighting setup designed to minimize reflections. If anyone knows of a good book or an on-line resource about dealing with reflections from these kinds of objects, or just has some good tips, I'd appreciate knowing of them. I could spend a little of my own money on a basic lighting setup if necessary. All I have at the moment is a Canon 430EX flash unit.


Dec 14, 2012 at 11:44 PM
ravisrajan
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p.1 #2 · Minimizing Reflections


I would recommend Light, science & magic book by Fil Hunter & Paul Fuqua. On chapter 3, they explain how to control reflection.
http://www.amazon.com/Light-Science-Magic-Fourth-Edition/dp/0240812255/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355533204&sr=8-1&keywords=light+science+and+magic




Dec 15, 2012 at 01:01 AM
RustyBug
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p.1 #3 · Minimizing Reflections


+1

Light, Science & Magic is a MUST READ regarding "family of angles" and the control of reflections.



Dec 15, 2012 at 01:59 AM
ElliotD
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p.1 #4 · Minimizing Reflections


Study up on the cross polarization.
This will get you started
http://www.betterlight.com/downloads/conference10_speakers/guyer_Polarization.pdf



Dec 15, 2012 at 06:16 AM
 

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campyone
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p.1 #5 · Minimizing Reflections


Thanks for the responses. I actually have the "Light Science Magic" book but had forgotten all about it so I'll dig it out and look at it again.


Dec 20, 2012 at 03:29 PM
JohnJ
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p.1 #6 · Minimizing Reflections


campyone wrote:
... many of which are glass and metal...


That's not easy stuff to shoot. I know 'cos I shoot cars for a living. Often you NEED the reflection to model the surface and show it's shape properly. More so with black or dark objects.

I have lots of automotive lighting tips here and these might be useful to you, at least for the highly reflective items.

campyone wrote:
...Since I'll be making hundreds if not thousands of photographs for the museum I'd like to learn something about creating a simple lighting setup designed to minimize reflections...


You'll find that there is no simple setup that will work well for everything although a basic 2 light setup (using suitably diffused lights with lights either side of the camera) will give a relatively soft and shadowless light. You might need a third light for the basic setup behind/above the objects to give a bit of a rim light if shooting against a dark background. The fact that you have so many pieces to shoot suggests to me that you will probably have to spend a bit of time with every 'different' type of object to find a setup that works well, and then shoot as many similar items before changing setups.

campyone wrote:
...All I have at the moment is a Canon 430EX flash unit.


I suspect you won't get very far with a single speedlight but just start with the simple objects, those that are less reflective, and see how you go. I'm sure you'll learn a lot by the end of the project and I suspect you might have a few more lights by the end of it too.

Don't forget that you can potentially use other types of lights such as fluorescent lights although the colour balance will never be correct. Tungsten is an option, although possibly too hot for the museums liking and they may even damage some objects, but the colour balance should be easy to correct fully if colour balance is important (it might not be).

Cross polarisation is an option but you will loose lots of light with that setup, approx 3 stops (1.5 stops on the lights plus 1.5 stops from the PL on the lens). You won't have a hope in hell with just a couple of speedlights unless the objects are quite close or you use a high ISO which will then give you relatively poor image quality. Cross polarisation really does require powerful strobes but if you use PL gels on continuous lights then you can just use a suitably long exposure instead. I only ever use it for small objects for this reason as I don't have uber powerful strobes and I hate using high ISO's.

You can potentially light paint the objects but this is time consuming and not something I'd suggest for hundreds/thousands of items. But you would only need one light!

Maybe you've bitten off more than you can chew. That's not necessarily a bad thing. There's no better way to learn IMHO.

Good luck, have fun.



Dec 21, 2012 at 05:15 AM
Allynb
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p.1 #7 · Minimizing Reflections


+1 Light science and magic will answer most of your reflection questions.


Dec 21, 2012 at 05:21 AM
RustyBug
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p.1 #8 · Minimizing Reflections


While it isn't very "creative" ... you might look into a light tent (store bought or DIY built) for shooting your subjects.

It could be in the museum's interest to purchase (or help build) a light tent and just let you use it. They would then have it available for future shoots as well.

Having one with an open back can allow "shoot through" such that you can have different background / background lighting. I saw an "old school" tent that a fabric company used for their catalog work that caught my attention for a future project.


I'd like to think that they could spend a couple $$ to save a $$$$$$$$$$ as they are aspiring to do via the volunteer route. Heck, they could even spend a couple more $$$ to send you to get some one-on-one training somewhere for this large task. They'll still come out good in the long run ... and with much better images. Not sure what their intended use for the images is. What they want for insurance record images may not be the same as for promotional images. That could be a factor here as well.



Dec 21, 2012 at 03:18 PM





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