I'm using a medium sized light box with LED bars and a gauze diffuser to photograph hand crafted models against a white background.

I have a fixed light from above and a movable light from the front. Both adjustable for brightness. If I turn the lights down the models I can't see the details on the models, but if I turn them up high enough I also get shadows and reflections from brush strokes.

The models are small so the brush strokes aren't visible with the naked eye under normal room lighting. They look terrible in the pictures but smooth in real life.

Are there any camera settings, or post processing (Photoshop) techniques that I can use to see the details bur not the brush strokes.

I trained in studio photography, so this has never been a problem for me before.

I'm using a digital camera.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you actually mean you can't see them with the lights off, or do you just mean you're under-exposing the images? Big difference to the answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 28, 2021 at 18:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ The models look smooth when viewed from a couple of inches away with the naked eye, but under bright light box conditions they look like a ploughed field because my high resolution camera picks up every single little imperfection. The bright LEDs reflect off of every little peak and create shadow in every little trough. But if I turn them down the tops of the models are OK but the bottoms are too dark. I'm obviously using the wrong settings, or setup. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 28, 2021 at 18:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's not an answer to the question I asked. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 28, 2021 at 18:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't mean either of those things. This is not the problem that I'm having. If I turn the lights down I can't see the small details on the models, if I turn them up the imperfections are magnified. I'm likely using the incorrect light setup, or incorrect settings on the camera as I'm used to filming from distances of several feet, not several inches. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 28, 2021 at 18:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ 1. Post an image. 2. Edit and complement the original question instead of posting small pieces of text on every comment. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafael
    Aug 31, 2021 at 18:17

2 Answers 2


It the light source is aligned closely with the plane of a surface, variations in surface texture will be more apparent…

…or to put it another way, don’t light the figures from directly overhead (or straight from the sides). Raking light produces shadows in the valleys of the brushed texture.

Instead light more from the front…but from an angle that doesn’t produce specular reflections…unless specular reflections are acceptable of course.

Or light from the rear and bounce light back in for front fill.

Anyway lighting is skill that takes practice to learn to do well. Magic tricks like light boxes will only be good enough so long as they are good enough.

  • \$\begingroup\$ To add/simplify; what you need is a large soft (diffused) frontal light source... also known as "flat" lighting because it hides textures. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 29, 2021 at 13:51

The truth is without seeing one example is hard to know. But let me guess. The LEDs have no diffusion, they are as a strip of little dots. Right?

As a first option add some vegetal paper to make one big diffusion, instead of a bunch of dots, and see if that diffuses your shadows or reflections.

But again. If you post a photo I will probably edit this answer.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I have a diffuser. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 31, 2021 at 8:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have a diffuser on all light sources \$\endgroup\$ Aug 31, 2021 at 8:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ You're not being very forthcoming on this. It makes it really hard for people to help if you just keep adding tiny bits of information each time,. yet never fill in the blanks with things that have been asked of you. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 31, 2021 at 10:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure what else you need to know. I'm getting too much contrast on the brush stroke. The peaks are shiny, the troughs are in deep shadow. Imperfections that are barely visible with the naked eye stand out. I need to soften the image without loosing too much detail or making it look blurry. With an SLR you can use specific lenses for this, like a soft polarized filter that reduces the angles that light enters the lens from. This option isn't available on my digital with a fixed lens. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 31, 2021 at 20:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ see?.. that's one more tiny bit of info you didn't mention before, you're not using a DSLR you can add filters to - or even that you have already considered adding filters. Yet you still haven't edited your question to provide any of the info requested in the many comments. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 1, 2021 at 7:02

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