Stainless Steel Photography: How to Shoot Highly Reflective Wares

By on June 5, 2012 — Updated on March 9, 2016

A highly polished stainless steel ware is very reflective. This is the most common problem in stainless steel photography.

Every object which surrounds it mirrors on its surface; making it untidy to capture – the worst if even you who is shooting the ware has a reflection on it.

Here is how to shoot a highly polished stainless steel ware. 

Stainless Steel Photography Shooting Room

The first thing that you need to give attention on photographing a highly polished stainless steel ware is the reflection.

Take note of what is mirroring on the surface of your highly polished stainless steel ware. Good if have a well set up studio which can be used for this kind of subject but if you don’t have, you need construct a shooting room like what I did.

shooting-booth-for-stainless-stee

This is made of Styrofoam, which I only borrowed from the Display Section of our Arts Department, built like a box as shown on the image “A” and is open at back with an igloo-shaped cover inside as shown on image “B”.

The purpose of the igloo-shape cover is to give seamless white reflection to the highly polished stainless steel ware that you are going to photograph. If you notice on the image “C” which is the front cover, there is a black strip on it and a rectangular hole. And this cover, only covers three-forth of the front area to allow the shooter come in-and-out the improvised shooting room.

The purpose of the black strip is to give black reflection on the surface of your highly polished stainless steel ware to avoid monotonous white reflection, and the rectangular hole is where you are going to position your camera when shooting.

The hole is aligned along the edge of the black strip to easily darken, during the post processing, the part of the image where your camera and you may reflect while shooting. The black strip that I used is a new black trash plastic, like that one which you always see in a trash can or basket.

If Styrofoam is not available around, you can also use plain white cloth or an EZcube if you have but these two sometimes don’t give good result as I have tried. Just make sure that when you build your own shooting room, getting raid of bad reflection is in your mind.

Stainless Steel Photography Lighting

Use diffused light, the reflected one. In my lighting setup, I used three model lamps, two lamps at the back and one at the side slightly in front of the improvised shooting room as shown on the image “A” and “B”; the lights are bounced on the walls of the shooting room to give even light to the subject through the opening at the back.

The direct light cannot hit and reflect on the highly reflective stainless steel ware because of the igloo-shaped cover inside that improvised shooting room.

The Post-processing

To get a very nice result, convert your image into Grayscale then adjust the contrast of the image in Adobe Photoshop. Take note that highly polished stainless steel ware are usually all silver, but be careful of some colored and gold trimmings when you are converting your image into Grayscale because they will surely be affected.

Touch-up and remove other unwanted reflections on your image if you have found some then apply a minimal strength of Smart Blur Filter to enhance its glossy appearance. Here are some examples and some are found at the topmost of this post:

highly-polished stainless-steel-photographyAs you can notice, the vertical black strip on every product image is the reflection of the black strip on the shooting room. This gives contrast to the monotonous white reflection.

5 Comments

  1. metalpig design

    June 11, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    Great tutorial on how to shoot highly reflective wares, specially stainless. This is a great help coz’ I’m planning to buy my first DSLR camera next month, hopefully! 🙂
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  2. RonLeyba

    June 15, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Reflections are kinda annoying if the photographer is not knowledgeable enough about how to shoot a reflective stuff properly. Thanks for sharing your stainless steel photography.
    I invite you to read: 8 Basic Camera Shots for Photography AmateursMy Profile

  3. tatess

    June 17, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    no wonder those stainless steel seen on the commercial phots are very well taken. Professional Photographers really knows what they are doing.
    I invite you to read: Accents Fashion Accessories + Another GiveawayMy Profile

  4. violy

    June 22, 2012 at 4:56 am

    wow interesting! I love photography but I’m lazy to set up the setting to make the shot better.. hehe. That’s why I love outdoor photography I rely on natural light.
    I invite you to read: Vivi’s Bridge Camera Challenge : Flower PhotographyMy Profile

  5. Alok S.Baranwal

    September 14, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    very interesting and well-defined tutorial…thanks for posting such a knowledgeable article.

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