Metal products are all around us. These include cup, tableware, and many other things that we use daily. However, photographing them can be challenging because their surface is reflective.
That is why you must implement tips such as light diffusion, getting a tripod, using the right camera settings, wearing gloves, and much more. All of these tips will enhance your metal product photography. The key here is to experiment and see which tips will work best for your product.
So, if you are looking to photograph metal products, you are in the right place. Here are all the tips you must implement in 2022 for the best results.
1. Diffuse The Light
The first thing you need to do is diffuse the light when shooting metal products. That is because the law of reflection states the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection. This means that the light will bounce off the surface and become reflected light.
After that, the reflected light will hit your camera lens and cause glare when taking metal product photos. The key is to diffuse the light before it reaches the reflective surface. There are many ways you can diffuse light when taking pictures of metal products.
Here are some top ones you can implement:
Using A Light Tent
One of the most affordable ways you can diffuse light is by utilizing a light tent. If you don’t know already, this is a cube, which is made of white and diffusing material. All you have to do is place the metal object inside the cube and place your light source outside the tent.
The white and diffusing material will scatter the light. When that happens, the reflections will soften up. Doing this will help you photograph your metal objects much more easily.
Using A Diffusion Paper Roll
If you don’t have a light tent, you can opt for a diffusion paper roll. You can place the diffusion paper between the light source and the metal object. After that, we recommend that you adjust the light to the angle.
You can also make other adjustments to make your photos look incredible. For example, you adjust the distance between the metal object and the light to change the shadows seen on the object. Finally, you can also make such adjustments to ensure your metal products look 3D and dramatic.
Use A Bounce Card
Last but not least, you can also use a bounce card to diffuse the light and avoid any reflections. You can place the light source behind or beside the metal object. Then, be sure to utilize the bounce cards to light the metal object.
You can think of the bounce cards as a mirror that will bounce light to the object. If you don’t know already, these are simple silver or white pieces of cardboard that you can utilize. During your shoot, these cards will help you control the lighting and prevent any harsh lighting.
2. Opt For A Tripod
If you are shooting small metal objects inside a studio, then we recommend that you use a tripod. That is because the small aperture and low ISO will mean that you must opt for a slow shutter speed. If your camera is not stable, then your metal product photography will come out blurred and shaky.
Besides that, when you are close to a small metal object, it can be challenging to maintain your focus. Even a subtle shift can cause blur in the picture. That is why we recommend that when you find a focal point, you can use a tripod in that place.
Doing this will allow you to get some of the best metal product photos without compromising on the quality. The pictures will come out sharp and focused, which means you won’t have to do a lot of post-processing either. So, using a tripod can help you save time and effort as you experiment with taking pictures of metal products.
3. Understand The Camera Settings
The camera setting is perhaps the most important thing you need to figure out during any photoshoot. The key is to understand the best camera settings you need to get fantastic photography results. For example, if you are doing tabletop photography, then you must have a low ISO and small aperture.
Keeping your camera on this setting will allow the small aperture to help you get clarity in the photograph. This is especially important if you are trying to capture the details of your metal products. Besides that, the closer you get to the metal object, the less depth of field you will get, which is why a small aperture is ideal for gaining clarity.
On the other hand, a low ISO is also ideal for any close-up photographs of metal objects. That is because you don’t want noise obscuring any detail you want to capture. High ISO can tend to obscure details while impacting your tone range and clarity of color.
We recommend that you pick a low ISO number and see which one works best for you. Once you experiment, you can decide the ideal one for your metal product photos and stick to it for the duration of the entire shoot or campaign.
4. Experiment With Angles
Product photos are all about the angles you use to take pictures. That is especially true if you are shooting metal objects because they are reflective and shiny. For example, it is best that you don’t position your camera directly in line with the metal object.
If you do this, the surface of the metal object will act as a mirror and reflect the light back to your camera. Because of this, your photographs will have a glare, and the product will not be clearly visible. That is why we recommend that you experiment with different shooting angles and find the right one for your metal products.
You can try and position it slightly above the metal product and the entire scene. After that, you can also tilt the camera a little bit down so that you can capture the photograph from a higher angle. In the same way, you can also try photographing the product from the sides.
Taking such pictures will be a process of trial and error, but once you get past it, you will figure out how it works. Just be sure not to face the object directly, and you will be good to go.
5. Wear Gloves
Many people leave out this important detail, but it is something you shouldn’t forget when taking pictures of metal products. All reflective and metal objects are prone to smudging, smearing, and fingerprints. That is why if you are working with a lot of metals, we recommend that you wear gloves to handle all the objects.
Cotton gloves will be one of the best solutions because they are soft and will not cause any smudging on the object. Wearing gloves will protect the objects and guarantee that you don’t have to edit any marks later on in post-production. We also recommend that you keep a solution with you to clean the metal surfaces.
The best way to clean a metal surface is to have a microfiber cloth. You can dip this in a water and vinegar mix and then clean the object. Once you do, the metal object will be clean like never before.
6. Shoot During Golden Hour
Are you shooting large metal objects for your ecommerce store? If you are, then we recommend that you shoot during golden hour for the best result. That is because when the object is large, you will have less control over your lighting solutions.
For example, you won’t be able to use a diffuser paper roll or bounce cards for a large object. That is why golden hour is the best time. If you take pictures at any other time of the day, then the light will reflect off the metal surface and cause significant glare in the pictures.
During golden hour the light is naturally soft and diffused, which is why you won’t need any additional tools to diffuse the light. If you don’t want golden hour light, you can also select an overcast day to shoot the metal objects. Many photographers call an overcast day nature’s softbox.
That is because the clouds fulfill the same job as a roll of diffusion paper. So, decide what kind of lighting you need for your objects, and then pick an ideal day to shoot your products. Once you do, you will get great pictures without needing fancy studio equipment.
7. Utilize A Matte Powder
If all your techniques of diffusing the light fail, then you can always use matte powder on the metal objects. Of course, this tip is only applicable for smaller objects because it is not practical for large metal objects. You can apply the powder to the object to make it look less shiny without much effort.
There are also matte creams you can use, but they can leave a mark on your metal object sometimes. If you plan on using a matte cream, you have to blend it properly so that it doesn’t show on the product. However, recommend that you stick to a matte powder as that will give you the best results.
8. Plain Or Clean Background
The key to shooting metal products is to keep your background plain, clean, and simple. This is especially true when you are working with jewelry, precious metals, art pieces, and even coins. The background would allow you to keep the focus of the audience on the metal object.
When you are conducting research on such photography, you will also find that most sellers always keep the background plain and bare. They do this because they want to capture all the details while ensuring that the object is in focus. If you plan on using a colored background, we recommend sticking to neutral colors.
Such backgrounds are the least distracting and will guarantee that you can achieve the aim you have in mind. If you use bright or vibrant backgrounds, it will steal the focus away from your metal products. You will have to work harder to keep them in focus with such a background.
9. Utilize Side Lighting To Capture Details
Metals are reflective surfaces, which means you won’t be able to capture their details in all photographs. That is why side lighting is one of the best techniques that will help you capture and highlight details. You will need a large table, an umbrella, white paper, foam boards, and continuous light.
You can position the light any way you like, then you can use the umbrella to diffuse the lighting to the left of your product. In some cases, you might have to move from side lighting to side lighting at a 45-degree angle to illuminate the metal product without any glare. Of course, this depends on the product you are trying to shoot.
For example, one of the best ways to shoot metal watches is by using 45-degree side lighting. Such a lighting solution will highlight all the details of the watch and guarantee that your audience can see everything your product has to offer.
You can also use such a technique for other metal products, such as coins. The key is to use this technique for small products that you can easily illuminate from the side.
That was your complete guide to the best tips for metal product photography. If you are running an ecommerce store, you can follow this guide to take the best pictures. However, if you don’t know where to begin, then we recommend you hire a professional.
A professional metal product photographer will have the expertise and knowledge to offer you the best solutions for your product photography. Once they are done, you will have some fantastic product photos for your campaign. In the long run, partnering with such a studio can help you save time and effort.