Lighting MINI Parts

By | January 31, 2010

I’ve had a recent photography project where I’ve been taking shots of parts. I thought it would be a fairly boring set of photos to take but I was wrong. First off, how do you make parts look good? Not too many options and for me, interesting lighting was the best approach. Below is an example of one shot.

The final image is show below and is a set of replacement side lamp covers for a MINI Cooper. These items are all “chrome” which can create a challenging shot.

I shot this using two Nikon strobes, a SB-600 and a very old SB-24. Each are manually set and I used inexpensive Cactus triggers. When the camera fires, it sends a signal to the remote triggers which fire the flash. The parts are sitting on white foamcore with a piece of plexiglass on top. This provides for a nice white surface and the plexi provides the reflection. The back is just another piece of foamcore. The main light is being shot through an umbrella to camera left. I have another strobe being bounced against another piece of foamcore to camera right.

For shots that have items that are not so reflective I use the umbrella and then a gridded flash to provide highlights. This does not work well with chrome since you get hot spots which is why I bounced into foamcore. This creates a much larger light source and reduces the possibility of hot spots.

My first shot had a problem where the smooth chrome on the left side ended up being totally black. It was reflecting from the room and because of the fast shutter speed the “reflection” was darkness. That made it look like the piece had a black spot there. See the photo below to see what I mean.

I ended up taking another piece of white foamcore and as I prepared to shoot with one hand, I used the other hand to position the foamcore so that it reflected back into that area of the part. That caused that “black” area to come out white as seen in the first photo. I’ve placed a photo to help with the setup.

Looking at this photo I positioned the camera between the umbrella and the other flash. I held the foamcore above and to the right of the camera to kill the black reflection.

I never really thought about the scenarios encountered photographing something simple like parts… I’ve learned a lot and found it to be more challenging than expected.

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