Working with reflecting materials, doesn't matter if it's a glass frame or a shiny bottle, brings always some challenges with it.
Before I share my top tips with you let's talk about really quick why is it so challenging to photography shiny objects? The problem is that you either see yourself or your camera or something in the background reflected in the glass. No matter if you take a step right or left there is always a reflection and it can be super frustrating. In this blog post I give you my top tips how to position yourself & the light & the painting & your camera to avoid that irritating reflection and take the perfect photo of an artwork.
TIP 1 - Light source
If you are a professional photographer in a studio environment you most probably own studio lighting. If you are hired to photograph paintings in a glass frame USE YOUR STUDIO LIGHT ONLY. Try to make the room dark as possible and try do avoid any natural light coming into the room. What we want here is to have 1 or 2 DIRECT LIGHT source we can control.
For non professionals
If you don't have any professional studio lightings don't worry, here is what you need to do:
- either take the photo of you picture in overcast when very little sunlight hits your paintings
- or bring your paintings in to a shadow where again, the sun doesn't hit your painting.
What we want here is that too much sunlight hits the picture. Why? When the light hits the glass it will be reflected and will be visible for your camera or phone which stands the oppiste side. Minimising and having more control over the light source is a great first step to take the perfect photo.
TIP 2 - LET'S PLAY WITH THE ANGLES
All you have to do now is to play with the angles. Don't forget: the glass reflects the light (you can't do anything about it) and our job here is to move the painting / light source / camera so that said reflected light is invisible for our camera. In other words the reflected light misses our camera.
Place your light source about 45' angle to the picture and pace your camera pointing straight to the picture. Take some test shots and make some adjustments if necessary e.g. move your lights to the sides or further away. Again, at this point we only need to find those angles when the light coming from your light source and bounces back on the glass doesn't hit your camera. Be patient and play around with those angles!
TIP 3 - MAKE IT DARK BEHIND THE CAMERA
It doesn't matter if you are a professional using a studio lights or a non professional working with natural light: make the background dark! Don't forget, everything reflects the light and we are here to learn how we can avoid it. Put a black backdrop on, use a cardboard painted black or hang up a black table cloth (this is what I use by the way) to avoid any reflection behind the camera. Don't need to go fancy, anything black will do!
If you camera / phone stands on a shiny tripod or chair or whatever, cover that too! Some people go so far that they cut out a whole in a table clothes or in a black cardboard for the lens for their camera. Sure, why not?
Do you remember I suggested to use a tripod or put your camera or phone on a table etc? There are two reasons for it:
- we don't want any camera shakes
- and we don't want yourself to be seen in the glass or your clothes to reflect the light
Please read on...
TIP 4 - USE A TIMER OR SHUTTER RELEASE
As mentioned just a second ago you don't want your camera to make any tiny movements in your hand and you don't want to see the shape of your body in the picture you photograph - so get out of the frame! Put your camera / phone on a timer or use an app or a shutter release or whatever you have available just don't be with your camera when it takes the photo.
That's it! Don't forget, it's all about letting as little as possible uncontrollable light to hit our picture and make sure that our camera doesn't see its reflection.
If you have any questions or comment please don't hold yourself back, I'm all ears!
If you tried these tips please let me know - success stories always make my days.
Thank you for reading this post and good luck!