While this is more about product photography than architectural photography I could not find a forum specifically on product photography.
My company manufactures stainless steel cabinets such as you may find in a kitchen or hospital. I would love to take some promotional pictures for our website and catalog.
I have access to monolights and softboxes. Can anyone give me pointers on how to set up to take good pictures of these products. Most of the articles I have found relate to small stainless or silver items like utensils and involve using a light box. Our products will not fit into a lightbox and some involve shooting in an actual lab or kitchen. I want to show off the shine, luster and cleanliness of the stainless without have obvious glare or reflections.
I'm by far no expert, but I'd suggest using as big a light source as possible, like a huge softbox, possibly more than one actually. And placed in a way that the light will not be reflected directly into the lens, so as to minimize specular highlights.
But it's only an empirical suggestion, otherwise called a SWAG...
Olivier Rychner __________________________________________ Jetez un oeil à ma galerie if you feel like it! And it's a bit void as of now, but I also have a Nikonians blog
Auta i lomë! And my Nikon's only awaiting daylight...
Fri 09-Nov-12 11:23 AM | edited Fri 09-Nov-12 11:24 AM by mklass
Oliver is on the right track. It is a question of how the light will be reflected off of the cabinets and into your lens. You want to eliminate or minimize specular highlights. Remember "angle of reflection" from any science or math classes?
Here is a great book that will help you out with this as it directly addresses your situation (as well as shooting glass and other objects): "Light Science & Magic, An Introduction to Photographic Lighting" by Hunter, Biver and Fuqua. The latest is the 4th edition published this year by Focal Press. You can get it on Amazon.
Just use the available light. That way you don't get reflections that don't belong there. All of the architectural interiors on my web site were shot available light. The stainless steel appliances look natural with this method so the cabinets should also.
I have shot some aluminum parts with very good results to my taste using a combination of lights to give some light colored cast using natural light as the main source in a room and adding natural tungsten lighting plus blue tungsten bulb both on 12 or 14” reflectors varying the distance of these from the object to get the desired cast.
I don't have experience with something as big as a cabinet, but I'm with Olivier and Mick suggesting big lights sources. It's difficult to control reflections.
For my job, I find myself shooting ground gear wheels and other tools, which exibit a lot of reflections. I do use a softbox, big in relation to the components. And I do a lot of trial and error, something that the rear screen or tethering facilitates a lot. I keep moving the softboxes until I get reflections where I want (look at the swiss army knife I posted in November macro contest- that's also stainless steel- or the gears I posted last year- one won the ontest and it's on the gallery)
Another approach I would explore is stacking. Maybe you could stack frames with different light source position to control reflexions. I recall a reputated photographer showing a wine bottle shot for a commercial where he shot more than 100 exposures through a slot on a cardboard to avoid light reflections or seeing the camera on the bottle. That was 20 years ago, before digital.