my mother is a ceramic artist and she was having me take some pictures of some work that will be in upcoming show. I took the pictures using three smith-victor (I think 200W) hot lights. I was please with the color and everything, but I do not like all of the reflections on the surface. can anyone offer any advice with both the photo and how to rid myself of these reflections?
The first trick that comes to mind is to use polarizing filters on the lights and lens. You can buy thin sheets of polarizing material for the lights. A good glass one for the lens would be best, but you might be able to use the sheet there as well.
If you orient the filters correctly you should be able to eliminate just about all the glare.
All good suggestions, but one thing about glossy surfaces is that you might lose contrast with all that diffused light. Look at the bottom of your mugs, Here's another simple lighting thing. In the first example is just a piece of translucent material...this happens to be rip-stop nylon. The light source is late afternoon direct sun. This type of lighting gives great light and brings out the shape of the item your taking pictures of. That's because although it's diffused light, I maintain it's direction, in relation to the object, maintaining the roundness of the pen. The pen is the final image...no additional lights at all! Sorry about the mess in the background!
Great shot and nice technique, but you have a very limited window (literally) for shooting .
I do some website shooting for a gallery specializing in ceramics and use the Redwing Cocoon for the smaller pieces (the gallery now uses the large Cocoon for in-house shots). Contrast can be regained via Photoshop, but if you have shiny glazes you need total reflection control.
I use two speedlights for most shots and make notes of the setup so I can replicate it whenever necessary. Using ambient light works with the Cocoon, but consistency is a problem if you are shooting on different days and times. The hot lights would work fine without the guesswork that comes with using speedlights. There are some concessions you make to aesthetics if you have a number of similar shots to make and not much time to do them.
Here's a bottle shot in the medium Redwing Cocoon with a Speedlight behind the bottle to illuminate the glass. I put white paper over the upper shooting hole so it wouldn't be seen in the shot. The Cocoon is a pain to assemble and the plastic gets a static charge that attracts all manner of stuff. The cone of white nylon fabric could be a good alternative and could be made cheaply with some sewing expertise.
LOL...yeah I know i have a small window, and my assitants hate trying to get everything in place before we lose the light...seriously though, i normally would be using a 5000ws fresnel to simulate the sunlight. The example holds though, and I agree with you that we have to control the reflections! In this case a little subtractive lighting would retain a products shape and color fidelity. As in using the cocoon, a couple of black cards would give you diffused lighting, and better contol of the contrast and shape of an object.