Find a shiny object and take a photograph from above. Then make a cone out of tracing paper so that the wide end sits around the object (out of view) and then tapers upwards so that the narrow end just surrounds the lens. Take another photograph.
The purpose of this exercise is to show how to control light bouncing off of shiny surfaces and minimise reflections.
I decided to use a piece of cutlery – a teaspoon that I had bought previously to use specifically for photography so it does not get scratched by daily use – placed on a piece of black velvet.
Hmmm. This exercise didn’t really go according to plan. I needed to use a tripod for the exercise but found that I couldn’t swivel the plate on my main general-purpose tripod to allow the camera to point straight downwards. Luckily my smaller travel tripod allows me to do this but I then had to swap cameras and use my Samsung NX5 as my Nikon D7000 was too heavy for this second tripod. I tried at first to make a cone out of grease-proof paper but this didn’t work as the paper was too flimsy. I then found some tracing paper, which was better and easier to use but I still had mixed success – I’ve realised that tracing paper and I don’t really get on and I found it impossible to make a cone where the smallest part was around the lens and where the widest part was out of camera shot. I shot in RAW and processed the images in Lightroom 5.
The first shot, taken with the light above and the camera pointing straight down, produced a clear reflection in the spoon of me, my tripod and also the beams in the room. I was anticipating this as the camera was within the family of angles so reflections were to be expected.
The second shot, this time taken with the cone of tracing paper (albeit a bit hit and miss) to act as a diffuser, is a lot better than the first. Although there are still some reflections they are much reduced and I am sure that if I had made a more successful cone, more of the incident light would have been diffused and the reflections would have been even less.
Learning points from this exercise:
- Reflections in shiny objects can be reduced by diffusing the incident light
- Although I did not spend much time changing the direction of the light, this exercise has helped me to understand the family of angles (as explained in ‘Light – Science and Magic’ – Hunter et al, 2012). Certainly this was one instance where ‘doing’ helped my understanding of the theory.
This final exercise in this section, was one too many, both for reasons of timing (I’d taken far too long ploughing through the exercises and was behind schedule for my assignment submission) and motivation (I’d lost the will to live by then). So, knowing that I wasn’t photographing a shiny surface for my assignment images, I left it until after my assignment had been sent to my tutor and was in the process of tidying up bits and pieces for this part of the course.
I found this exercise a little frustrating, mainly due to my cack-handedness with tracing paper! The end result was not a particular success in terms of the images as my tracing paper cone didn’t work too well. however, the second image does demonstrate to a point what the exercise was trying to achieve and I do now understand the theory and mechanics behind avoiding reflections on a shiny surface.