Shooting shiny chrome objects

It may sound easy and it may look easy, but shooting reflective sphere-shaped objects is a complicated task! Shooting objects like this, or even jewellery, where you want to retain that metallic feeling while avoiding unsightly reflections, can often be a real challenge.

Often a go-to solution is to use a light tent, or light box, but in this class Karl explains why these aren’t really the best option. Instead, he demonstrates a simply DIY lighting equipment solution that you can make yourself and that works better!

Throughout this class, you’ll see Karl’s step-by-step workflow and how he builds up his lighting to maintain that lovely metallic look on the subject while controlling and removing unwanted reflections in the metalwork.

Class objectives:

  • How to photograph reflective objects
  • Demonstrate techniques for controlling reflections on shiny objects
  • Lighting setups for product photography on a white background
  • How to balance multiple lights
  • Demonstrate how to control light by adjusting the distance from the subjects

You can also find a full retouching tutorial where Karl explains the post-production process for this shiny kettle.

Other related classes that you may enjoy include:

If you have any questions about this class please post in the comment section below.

NOTE: This class is available with English subtitles and automatic translations.


  1. Its an absolute nightmare shooting such extremely reflective product, I normally use a cube to shoot and do a lot of work in post, will tryout your method. thanks for the class.

  2. I’m curious if you use that tube horizontally to shoot other things chrome or shiny? How else have you used the tube? I saw the video where you used a cone to photograph jewelry, another interesting light tent technique. I just finished a chanel lipstick with a chrome finish, both cylinder and square, which were a challenge.. hours of subtle tweaks to position and lights and scrims. You don’t realize how fussy it is until you are working with it. I felt that photo was a success because the photoshop work was an hour or less to finish. Now that I tried once, I feel like I need to dive in to learn and better understand dealing with shiny gloss or chrome finishes.

    1. Hi Gary, I’ve not used the tube horizontally but I use the cone alot for small stuff. Other wise it’s boxing in with scrims.

  3. Hello Karl,

    at the time i have to shoot a curtain rod that you can attach without drilling. the main problem is the 1m length, which is why it is a bit more complicated to shoot the glossy (chrome) rod. Do you have some Ideas for how i could build up my set up, so that the full rod is visible in the frame. The Rod is avaiable in 3 Colours, which is why it would be very helpful to change the rods without having to change the whole set up.

    I am really interested to read how you would go about it.

    looking forward to receive a response from you.

    Best regards

    1. Hi, are you photographing the curtain rod in place on a wall? If so then the white ceiling above can be used to bounce light from just block the light path from the flash so that it doesn’t directly strike the curtain rail and it only hits the ceiling.

  4. This is fantastic Karl, like all your other tutorials! thank you so much! I am shooting now highly glossy beauty products for a client and it has been quite challenging to say the least…. This course, has helped me a lot. Due to time constriction, I created a similar set from a heavy Savage plastic roll and it worked well too. Excellent tutorial!

  5. Hi Karl,

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. Recently, I did the photo shoot of a perfume bottle and the cover of the bottle has the similar shiny reflecting property as the kettle. I am seeing my own reflection, all the lights, and other small details. I wish I could see the post production process of how you fill the missing area and final result.

    1. Hi, Thank you. Also see the Clinique product shoot and post production that will help you with some ideas.

  6. Excellent Karl, thank you! I am shooting glossy, translucent pieces for a new client and it has been hell. lol This course, along with some of your other courses have helped me tremendously.

  7. Hi Karl,

    I really loved watching this kettle shot, I am wondering if there is a way to get the kettle to look more reflective and glossy?, I do understand that the job is pretty much to take away the reflections that is visible on the highly reflective surface but is there still any method of having the end result showing that the item is glossy as a mirror?

    Thank you very much

    1. Hi Joseph, If you stop and think about it there is no such thing as glossy as a mirror. A mirror is essentially an imaging device that simply reflects it’s surroundings a polished kettle also does the same except with fish eye lens properties. Often a technique we use to induce a sense of artificial ‘normality’ is to place black strips of card to reflect as black lines in our highly reflective objects.

  8. Hi Karl, thanks for the amazing tutorials. Do you have any tutorials on how to shot glasses as a pack shot? (behind a white background)

    1. Hi Rayan, not sure we’ve done so many but also check our previous live shows as we’ve done some on glasses and some on packshots

  9. Hi Karl, I’m really struggling photographing golf clubs (drivers with lots of logos and embossing). I’m using 2 scrims and a 2 light set up- bare bulb, but I can’t seem to get the gods of reflections, highlighting and detail to align. Do you think the kettle set-up would be better? Many thanks, Lucy

    1. Hi Lucy, that’s a difficult question with not seeing what you are doing. Maybe post the image in the Facebook members group and if I get a chance I can take a look there. The kettle setup is definitely good for spherical objects because you have a continuous light shaper but you should be able to achieve something similar by creating a wrap around of scrims.

  10. Hi Karl, I’m really struggling photographing golf clubs. Do you think this would be the setting to tackle it? I’m currently using scrims and a two light set up, but I can’t get the lights and reflections looking right. Many thanks, Lucy

  11. Karl, what would be the best option if I need to take multiple still life photos of objects and food for stock photography, needs to be with pure white background and diffused shadows.
    What shape and size of a soft box is the best for this? What type of material for non reflection? Do you think a still life table is worthy? or maybe creating a backdrop with another softbox? I dont have the studio size to illuminate my walls for this.
    Thank you so much for sharing all your amazing work!

    1. Hi Paul, thank you for your kind comments. With regards to your question I will be happy to answer it if you still feel you need it but I would really implore you to watch these sections in the order below first as you will then know the answers for yourself much more confidently, come back to if you have any questions:

  12. Hello Karl
    Perchance, are there any images available online showing the lighting build up, where we can see each light added in separately and what it is doing? I’m assuming probably not but I’d thought to ask anyway. Thanks in advance.

  13. Hi Karl, Fantastic Videos compliment for your amazing Works. I want know what is the material of that white Panels? Background and the base? Thank you so . much.

  14. This looks a perfect solution for our metallic cookware, so am keen to give it a go!

    How thick is the white perspex you are using?

    1. Hi, I use both 3mm and 5mm it doesn’t make a huge difference for this sort of thing, the 3mm is easier to bend though.

      1. Thanks Karl. I am going to try 3mm for the ring and a thicker piece underneath.

        Do you have any advice on how big to make the ring – this looks a bit over twice the size of the kettle and around 70cm high in the video.

        1. Hi Neil, the bigger the better in most cases as you have more shooting space but it will all depend on what you are shooting. Yes 5mm solid white for the base is a good idea, probably worth having a gloss and a matt version.

  15. Hi Karl. I am shooting shiny metal sculptures using scrim and diffusers etc. The sculptures have mostly soft curves so the graduated light is working really well but where the sculpture has a prominent high point or feature, the curve is very acute and I am getting some nice specular highlights in this area which is the look I want. My aim is to create some sparkles on the very tips of some of the curves to make accentuation points.

    My question therefore is, can these sparkles be allowed to clip the exposure level (i.e. slightly over exposed ) to create the sparkly effect or should they never be allowed to be clipped and kept below 255 on the histogram?

    1. Hi Peter, definitely sparkle highlights can clip beyond 255, in fact they need to or they will look flat. In reality if we were looking at the object those specular areas would be a direct reflection of the light and would be beyond white.

    1. Hi Akansh, yes it is very similar principles but also watch some of our watch photography tutorials including the live show replays.

  16. Hi Karl,

    Would you have any tips on shooting reflective letters on a curved container? I have these protein powder containers that I have been trying to shoot with a gradient from left to right, but the lettering keeps coming out very white, rather than metallic looking. I have tried shooting the containers in a light tent and adding a silver card, but nothing seems to be working. I would be extremely grateful for any help!


    1. Hi Nicole, gloss metal is always a tough one but I would recommend a large scrim/diffussion material as close as possible to the subject and then experiment with the light (bare bulb) a few inches behind and then vary the distance. Alternatively a two light set up, one for the general scene to get the overall exposure correct but without lighting the letter so more indirect lighting and then adding the scrim for the gradient in the letters with just a very low power light.

  17. Hi Karl, the objective is to obtain a shot of the spoon from the top, with a transparent colored liquid inside (think cough syrup). For this, I’d like the spoon to look a little shiny (but without any harsh black lines) with a soft gradient toward the edges, and with a nice highlight in the middle so the syrup doesn’t look dark. Attached are two examples I found that resemble a little what I’m trying to achieve although my spoon doesn’t have that antique feel. Attached is a progression of what I have been able to achieve so far. The highlight in the middle is still too harsh, and the spoon looks like brushed chrome rather than shiny silverware. I’ve tested with a scratched old spoon, but the final one I’ll use will be new and spotless. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  18. Hi Karl,

    Would you have any tips on how to shoot a reflective and curved object, from the top, such as a spoon, facing upward? I’ve created a tube of diffusion around the spoon, put a lid of the same diffusion material on top with a hole in it for the camera lens. I then lit from the top (behind the camera), but the result is not totally convincing. I’m getting a gradient from the middle of the spoon to the outer edge, but the center of the spoon is a little hars, and the outer edges of the spoon are not contrasted enough. Any insights? Thanks

    1. Hi Than, my first question would be ‘how do you want the spoon to look and why?’ I believe there is a solution for most image requirements but first we need to be clear of the objective and the reasons behind it, then we can work on the physics of how to do it. Do you have a picture example on a website that you can link to of the look you’d like to achieve?

  19. Hi Karl, great work. Instead of trying to bend Perspex would it work the same if I create a tube using tracing paper?

      1. Hello Karl,
        thank you for the video.
        What is the difference between perspex and Lee 216?
        How do you decide which one is better.
        Thank you

        1. Hi Roberto, Perspex may be slightly better but it has disadvantages in that it melts very quickly if the modelling lamp is too close to it. It’s also heavy. It’s advantages are that it’s rigid so for small to medium sizes you can use a sheet without having to make a frame for diffusion 216. Other than that not much difference I use both.

  20. Hello Karl! Would it help to have a large soft-box behind the camera as well so the black spot on the kettle is limited to only the shape of the camera and the stand?

    1. Hi Gurushankar yes as long as the additional light doesn’t create a problem for your subject. Alternatively you can take a white piece of foamboard and simply cut a whole in it for the lens and put this in front of the camera.

  21. I would have been there a month trying to work that one out, an ingenious solution. Once your lights are in place, as you want them, why don’t you turn off your modelling lights? I tend to turn mine off once I’m set up and know where the light will hit, am I doing it wrong?

  22. Yes that might work but you would get lines where the polyboards meet and the gradation would change at those points.

  23. What if a sort of tent could be made of Poly Board large enough to bounce light on spots of the board Like shooting a car so more tonal graduated fall off could be attained Also maybe using spot grids on the bounce lights so clean fall off can be controlled What do you think?

  24. I would really want to learn how to shoot silhouettes of the wine bottles on a dark background too (if I may). I’ve tried some on my own, but can’t get this beautiful and smooth gradient of the rim-lights of the bottle even using big diffusors. Thx

    1. Hi Vadim, if you visit the ‘live shows’ page and check the schedule you will see that is coming.

  25. Thank you Vadim, I have also have some new methods for shooting shiny jewellery and metal objects that I will be sharing in future courses here on KTE.

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