How to Illuminate Metal for Photo Shoots

Metallic objects can be a real pain when it comes to lighting and photographing them. Photographer Jay P Morgan from The Slanted Lens demonstrates techniques you can use to light metal objects the right way:

Use a V-flat

One solution to get gorgeous light wrapping around the metal objects is to use V-flats.

“A V-flat is two pieces of cardboard that are taped together, usually pieces of foam core.”

Using a V-flat as a directional light bounce wraps the metallic object with light while avoiding distracting reflections and highlights.

Use a Reflector

Morgan’s aim is to light the chrome plated BB gun. If the light source is pointed directly at the metal gun, you can see specular highlights.

“Metal wants a reflection, not direct light.”

shining direct light on metal object

Pointing a light source at the shiny metallic object doesn’t look flattering.

The idea is to reflect light onto the gun instead of pointing a light directly at it.

Morgan uses a simple trick to identify where to place a reflector. Simply place a mirror over the side of the gun and have a look at the mirror from the camera’s perspective. The reflector needs to be at the place you see in the mirror.

Lighting a shiny metallic object using reflector

Using a reflector to bounce light on the object

“Metal is lit on the angle of incidence.”

By lighting the metal object using a reflector at the angle of incidence, you get beautiful soft light, making it come alive.

photographing shiny metal object

If you’ve been really stressing over how to light shiny metal objects, I’m sure these simple tips will come handy!

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