Gradient Lighting for Product Photography

There are many different lighting techniques that can be used when photographing products, but one of the most powerful is gradient lighting.

This technique is not only used to make products look more luxurious, it’s also the best way to control reflections in glossy surfaces.

In this class Karl takes a closer look at gradient lighting, what effect it has on glossy and matte textured products, and how to create this lighting technique using diffusion paper and affordable DIY modifiers such as scrims and light cones.


    1. Hi David, it’s impossible to say as this is a woven fabric and not a paper, some fabrics create a ‘starburst’ effect in the diffusion which then reflects in glossy subjects and looks bad. You’d have to test some to see as some fabrics are OK.

  1. hello.
    It is difficult to fully understand because they do not provide Korean.

    However, I respect your lectures and consider them the best.

    Even with Google’s automatic translation function, I can understand it enough, and I think it will be of great help.

    If you have a chance someday, please add the automatic translation function.

    thank you

  2. What is the difference between using a p70 reflector to create gradients through a thin pine cloth and using a softbox to create gradients through a thin pine cloth?

    1. Hi, when you say pine cloth I’m going to guess that you mean diffusion scrim? From between 3mins and 5 mins 30 seconds in this video it is demonstrated and explained very clearly the reasons why?

  3. Hi Karl,

    What is the difference between scrim and softbox? Why do they produce different lighting? Just looking at them I’d say that scrim is just a larger softbox.

    Is it the material or the way light travels inside of a softbox? Or perhaps both..

    1. Hi Denis, a good softbox has two layers of diffusion which means the light at the front surface is perfectly spread out and even or homogenous in lighting terms. With a scrim it is deliberately not perfectly homogenous, that would have been apparent in the result comparisons in this video?

      1. Thank you for the explanation. I am in the beginning of my lighting journey so a lot of things are not apparent to me. 😊

  4. Hi Karl,

    Thank you for the video very very helpful, as Im planning to start tacking photography for food , (mostly pastry) I’m wondering if this rules can be apply to food for example , bread are mat, and some pastries with glossy chocolat glaçage are glossy and can reflect light???

    Another question, do I need to build a big scrim even if the product or food are small in size does it effect something I mean the size of the scrim??

    Thank you again

    1. Good questions Louna. There are lots of food like glazed tarts, glossy cakes and moist meats that really benefit from gradient reflections (or even an egg yolk in a bowl) so yes a scrim is always helpful. I always say make the biggest scrim that you can realistically use and stow away . If you have a large plain white ceiling this can also be used to create gradient reflections and we cover that in other classes. Scrims can also be used for matt subjects but they will look similar to softboxes but softboxes are often more convenient.

      1. johnleigh

        i like the sound of using ceilings as a way to create gradients without have a big scrim due to my lack of space –

  5. Hi Karl,

    do I need the Lee diffusion material or can I use also fabric for softboxes?

    Thank you,


  6. So much of planning would have gone into making this video that you could fit it into 10 min.
    Nicely edited too, crisp and to the point.

    Good work team KTE!

  7. Hi Karl,
    What method would you suggest to arrive to a nice gradient lighting on a matt surface object? Or it is not really feasible?
    Thank you and keep the great videos coming

    1. Dear Karl,

      First of all, love your videos!

      What would you recommend for shooting aluminum foil pans on pure white background? Which lighting setup would work best for these 100% reflective items?
      It seems like no matter what I do I am a little off from the “sweet spot”. If I get the lighting to be uniform throughout the item then it usually looks a little too matte and the item loses it’s metallic feeling. Contrarily, if the item is brightly lit and feels right then I always get a few unwanted reflections.

      Thank you,

  8. Not sure what it is about this particular video—but I like the production and pace of this one.

  9. what kind of diffusion roll would you suggest for product photography like, frosty or normal diffusion for getting started with it ?

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