The challenges of photographing highly reflective metalware

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Digitalis32
Digitalis32 Contributing Member • Posts: 565
The challenges of photographing highly reflective metalware
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I have been in discussions with an instrument repairer that is looking for someone to get high quality photographs of instruments they are selling - and they are willing to pay for it (though they are a bit tepid when the subject of money comes to the fore, which isn't a particularly good sign in my experience). Being a trained commercial photographer and a performing musician myself I used some of my own instruments just to figure out what the biggest challenges and obstacles are with high key metalware photography.

At this point I'm keeping it simple: a single Elinchrom BRXi500 and a Rotalux 100cmX35cm striplight, placed directly above the instrument and the backdrop is a white sheet of seamless background paper. Annoyingly, silver instruments will leave dark marks on the paper so I had to change it regularly to mitigate the need of retouching the marks out in post.

One issue that is bugging me in particular with theses images is keeping the background shade and colour absolutely consistent between shots - and there is some significant shifts and shading going on.

My Pentax K-1 is set to a fixed 5000 Kelvin WB, 1/200th sync speed. The lenses I'm using are the Pentax SMCP-FA*200mm f/4 ED Macro and the Pentax SMCP-FA77mm f/1.8 Limited with an 11mm extension tube. (ed. I have been using an ND filter to get shallower DOF in some shots, and it occurs to me that might be the culprit of the colour consistency issues)

Regarding the shading evident on the background, would increasing the diffusion of light help though an additional scrim? Perhaps adding a dedicated light with barndoors on the background improve inconsistencies? Or would backlighting through opal perspex on a dedicated photography table produce more consistent results? Switching the images to pure monochrome to side step the issue seems to be a complete cop out to me.

Recommendations and advice would be welcome.

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A camera is just a camera. Who is behind it, matters far more.

 Digitalis32's gear list:Digitalis32's gear list
Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Leica M (Typ 262) Pentax KP Pentax K-1 II Leica Summilux-M 21mm f/1.4 Asph +13 more
Pentax K-1
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