For a personal project, I need to take a photo of a balloon. I want it illuminated, with back light and a front light. The thing here is that I don't know how to illuminate the front light. I want light without the flashes or light bulbs reflected on the surface of the balloon.

Any tips on how to illuminate it?

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Keep in mind that a catchlight (specular reflection) is what gives the viewer a clue that it is a shiny object. Take that away and the object won't look shiny. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mattman944
    Jan 4, 2020 at 20:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not enough to make an answer out of, but you can get anti-shine makeup that will matt the balloon surface if you really want no obvious catchlight at all. It's used a lot in the film industry & for fashion modelling, all genders & skin types & is completely camera-invisible, other than its matt effect. Amazon link Other makes are available. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 5, 2020 at 8:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is ballon a typo? If not, what kind of object is it? \$\endgroup\$
    – Lawrence
    Jan 5, 2020 at 12:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ It might be useful to link to an image of a similarly lit balloon \$\endgroup\$
    – Strawberry
    Jan 5, 2020 at 17:30

3 Answers 3


Unless you have a matt ballon which I never ever have seen, you will have a reflection.

The point is what reflection you can handle.

If you do not want a hotspot, use as Romero Ninov said a softbox. If you do not want a rectangle as a catchlight (which can be pretty nice) use a light tent.

Make a box of PVC pipes and construct the walls of vegetal paper (waxed paper is too transparent so do not use them) Make a round hole to sneak the camera lens into the tent.

Now uniformly lit the walls of the box. Probably two intense lights at 45° angles horizontally and vertically on both sides a little far away to make the light uniform.

What you will have is a biiiiiiiiiig catchlight, soo big that you will not see it is a catchlight.

One variation is making a conical tent, like a teepee, so the light is even more uniform.


Most of the balloon photo have kind of "catchlight" so there is nothing wrong. If you want to avoid those reflections try to use huge softbox to create big source of light and more even light.

Also covering the balloon with powder can help but you will loose the effect of glossy surface.


If the balloon's surface is uniform enough, you can simply remove the reflection in post-processing. As an example, here's a random photo of balloons:

enter image description here

And here are the same balloons with the reflections crudely removed in Lightroom. I'm sure you could do a much better job in Photoshop. Although do note that removing the reflections means that the balloons no longer look shiny.

enter image description here


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