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Photographing Sequins/Glitter

Mark Harrington , Dec 14, 2010; 11:54 a.m.

I also posted this in the lighting techniques forum as I'm not sure where it should go. I am doing a Mardi-Gras shoot where the client wishes to use a mask covered in glitter and sequins as a photo prop against a black backdrop. My concern is how to light the scene so as to minimize blowing out the highlights of the glitter while being able to appropriately light groups of 1 thru 6 people. shooting space will be compressed, a meeting room with 8 or 9 foot ceilings and likely only about 4 feet in front of backdrop for subject to stand. Anyone have a suggestion?


Marius Lardizabal , Dec 14, 2010; 12:09 p.m.

If the ceiling is white or off-white you can bounce your lights from there. If the color sucks or the surface is uneven get a big white reflector and have an assistant hold it for you and bounce off of there.

The key is getting the biggest source possible.

Nadine Ohara - SF Bay Area/CA , Dec 14, 2010; 01:14 p.m.

Generally, I would agree you need a large, diffused light source. However, it might depend on how big the mask is and how much depth it has. As the mask curves, things will change re 'angle of incidence equals angle of reflection'. You might have to be prepared several solutions and just test everything out before starting.

Marc Williams , Dec 14, 2010; 05:03 p.m.

While you are testing, try a Polarizer.

David Schilling - Chicago, Illinois , Dec 15, 2010; 08:28 a.m.

You might try an omni-bounced positioned slightly to the side and well above the lens, feathered slightly away from your subjects. Also, you can expect to blow-out highlights from some light sources and highly reflective surfaces (such as glitter) and it's not considered poor lighting. It can become a distraction in some images but thus is the cost of glitter-glam. By elevating and moving the light it can help minimize the blow-back light which can totally screw-up your TTL exposures.....suggest that you monitor your histogram as as you go and have the subject change their angle to the lens slightly while you look for the best results. Good luck and post back on your experience/results.

Mark Harrington , Dec 16, 2010; 12:34 p.m.

Ok, so I arrived to find a large flat mask about 10' in width. The mask was very limiting to the options, but basically just a typical event shoot. I set up flat lighting using 2 43" umbrellas at a 45 degree angle and pushed them up to the ceiling, feathering the light on subejects in the middle. Shot about 350 images in 2 hours so not alot of time to try something new. Everything worked out ok. Here's a sample of the background and then the resulting picture. Sorry to remove the facial details, but I don't have permission to post any identifyable images.
Thanks for the help.

David Schilling - Chicago, Illinois , Dec 17, 2010; 08:45 p.m.

Thanks for the follow-up but I'm wondering, since she's already wearing a mask,.... why did you feel the need to alter the visable areas of the face?

Mark Harrington , Dec 20, 2010; 01:21 p.m.

Govt function, regular client, don't want any issues.

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