Shooting a Shiny Surface

The thing about the corset was the glossy, shiny look. I wanted that shine to be smooth and liquid, a wide and smooth highlight that would set off the face of the model and the textures of the rest of the image.

I wanted a dramatic light on the face however, so using a large softbox was not the answer as that would mean that the face would be lit with that large, wide source as well.

I chose a small softbox for slightly over her head, and brought it in very close. This light gave me the look on the face that I wanted. Dramatic with shadow and definition. What I needed was some more fill to bring the contrast level down a bit.

Shooting a Shiny Surface: Diagram A
A large V-card on camera left and a flat panel on camera right did the job nicely. But the corset was still too dark as the angle of the shot meant there was nothing for the vinyl to reflect.

Shooting something like this isn’t about pouring light on it, it is about creating something for the shiny material to reflect. I added a fill card at an angle to be lit from the main light and placed it in very close to Jillian. That fill card is what is being reflected in the vinyl. It gives the liquid look to the smooth, shiny surface.

This was fine, but in the test shots there was something missing. I needed to give the body a little snap, some edge to it to make it stand out a bit more from the background instead of blending in.

Shooting a Shiny Surface: Diagram B
Bringing in a speedlight at a very low power was exactly the answer. I focused the light past Jillian and bounced it into the V-card on camera left. The little wink of light gave me a very subtle edge light to the image. That made the shiny, smooth corset even more interesting as it added a ‘hard’ edge to other parts of the shot.

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