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This is my setup for photographing books:

lighting diagram

.. but I have issues with glossy books and magazines. I need help understanding the best place to position the lights so it covers the entire cradle (120 degrees) and produces even lighting.

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This answer might be useful: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/9531/… (in brief: two polarisers, one on camera and one on flash). –  Jukka Suomela Jul 25 '11 at 8:58

2 Answers 2

Things to try:

  • This question about photographing canvas - as linked to in @Jukka Suomela's comment.

  • The biggest light source you can find. This could involve using a light tent.

  • There is an excellent book which covers this subject, called "Light, Science and Magic". It is avaiable from amazon.co.uk and amazon.com. This book gives you the tools to work out not just what will work for different lighting situations, but why it will work.

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The problem with using a light tent is that you will definitely get some glare everywhere as you are lighting from every direction, specular reflections will hit the camera from every part of the surface. As a result contrast will be much lower (your blacks wont be black any more). A better solution is to use hard light and angle it so the glare misses the camera. –  Matt Grum Jul 25 '11 at 13:13
    
The book is great and recommends doing it either with polarizers or Matt's way. –  rfusca Jul 25 '11 at 13:25

You don't need anything fancy like polarizers to light your scene. To avoid glare you just need to place the lights so that there is no direct path from lightsource to camera by bouncing directly off your subject (i.e. the way a ball would bounce off). By lighting from a low angle glare will bounce off at a low angle and miss the camera.

For simplicity I've removed the second camera, but the same logic applies:

Placing lights in the green zones will guarantee no glare. If you move your camera back and use a longer lens that will give you a greater area in which you can place the lights without getting glare.

For evenness of lighting you'll want a symmetrical setup, i.e. one light either side. The further away the lights, the more even they will be also, as the distance from the lightsource to each part of the surface will vary less.

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