Dino Saga 080713 _ Shooting Glass and Chrome

Discussion in 'Corbani's Corner' started by John Corbani, Jul 13, 2008.

  1. John Corbani

    John Corbani Formula 3
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    May 5, 2005
    Santa Barbara, CA
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    John Corbani
    #1 John Corbani, Jul 13, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Dino Saga 080713 _ Shooting Glass and Chrome

    Shooting glass and chrome to bring out technical details is one of the most difficult jobs you can attempt with a camera. It is very much like shooting fine jewelry. All you have to work with is the light bounced off of a polished surface. If you have a spot light, you get some bright spots. If you have a white tent over everything, every surface looks white. What you have to do is mix the light to show the color of the surfaces and highlights from the jewels. Car parts are not as glamorous but are usually larger and you only have to show a few details with perfect clarity. Like part numbers!

    You do need a few things to start. A camera with a zoom lens, something over 3 M pixels, and a macro capability. A tripod. A selection of background paper. Light grey, light blue, dark blue and black. Cloth will do. Fine texture is OK. You do need lights. Flash is worthless for these kinds of shots and close up work in general. I use two articulated desk lamps with 100 w bulbs in them. The reflectors on the lamps are about 6” in diameter. If you use tungsten lamps then set your camera to tungsten (bulb). If you use CFL lamps, you can usually leave the camera set to sunlight. You have to test.

    The background serves a number of purposes. It complements the color of the part. The picture looks better. It adds or removes light on the part. It can do all these things. If you are shooting a clear glass part, black is usually the best background. You will have front and back surfaces with details molded or engraved into the surfaces. You want the details to stand out. It is easier to illuminate the details and leave the large surfaces black or at least dark. Illuminating the details requires simple lights some distance away or spotlights. You don’t need a bank of spotlights. Distance serves the purpose.

    Chrome is a mirror surface. If all you need is detail shots then the background color will tint the chrome and the blues work well. These give some overall shape to the part. The ceiling of your shooting room provides the rest. If you have a light box, the sides of the box will provide some light but if you are looking for engraving in a surface, the engraving will be dark against a light background. Move a light around the lens until you are satisfied. If the details are molded, either raised or lowered, then you generally want the details light against a darker background. This usually means moving the light farther away from the lens.

    A lot of this shooting can be done with one light but a second is handy and the cost is nil. Drug store or art store quality is just fine. All you want is the flexibility and the ability to lock the lamps in position. Don’t forget the tripod for the camera.

    The three pics illustrate what can be done with one light and a dark background. All I was looking for was the part number or manufacturer. Got both on old Dino side light parts. Camera to subject distance was about 18”. Focal length about 50 mm. Cropped some and added the magnified insert. Added text and done. Worked well. Enjoy.

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