Project 60: shiny surfaces

Task: Photograph shiny subjects, surrounded by tracing paper and without.

Setting up for this shoot took longer than taking the photographs! It took a while to work out how to surround a subject with tracing paper and be able to control my camera. Eventually I worked out that I could cover my tripod with tissue paper and use it as a tent around each subject. This also meant that it would be easy to lift away and photograph each subject without tissue paper. I used my 23 – 135 mm lens so that I could keep the camera low, therefore having less surrounding area to cover with tracing paper.This also meant that I had to find shiny objects that weren’t too large to fit in the frame.

Keys without diffusion

The above image was taken before the tracing paper was put around the key. The ring is almost burnt out whilst there is a shadow cast under and above the key.

Key with diffuser

Surrounding the key with tracing paper to block out direct light has produced remarkable results. There is a lighter uniform colour to the ket whilst the shadow detail has been softened a lot. The blue background has also been lightened.

Corkscrew with no diffuser

Similarly with the key, when there was no tracing paper around the corkscrew (above) there was a lot of reflection and shadows cast on the blue background.

Corkscrew with diffuser

Again, when the tracing paper was put around the corkscrew it made a considerable difference. It produced a matte like appearance evenly across the corkscrew, the background was lightened and the shadow was virtually all eliminated. There was just a slight reflection on the right side from the tripod above the object.


This is one of the most eye-opening projects of the course. It just goes to show that you don’t need expensive kit to improve photos. Just a piece of tracing paper made a significant difference to these shiny objects. I recognise how this would make a considerable difference to product photography, making objects more aesthetically pleasing.


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