Disclaimer: absolute beginner to photography.

Ok, so as I start learning the basics of product photography by browsing the web + trial & error, I came across one problem.

I want to closely match the lighting of the following shot, Isometric view of product on a glossy surface

but from an overhead angle. Since the shot is taken on a reflective (black) surface, the somewhat obvious problem I get is that from an overhead angle, the camera's reflection can be seen in the shot.

Here's an example of the reflection on the same surface as above. I tried playing a little bit with the distance, position, and number of lights. The reflection is always there with the combinations i tried.

I'm open to setup suggestions (buying other surfaces/lights). At the moment, I have 2 tabletop lamps, and one softbox overhead. All three are continuous lights.

Example of reflection

My question is, what kind of surface/lighting combination could I use to achieve a similar 'cloudy' look of the background from an overhead angle. I am at a loss so any suggestion is more than welcome. I'm looking for setup examples, if possible. Thank you.

P.S. What is the correct term for describing the light appearance I showed? I couldn't come up with anything better than 'cloudy'.

Edit 1: Added example shot. Edit 2: Emphaiszed my question.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You need to set the light up far away from the product you are trying to photograph i think. And i think the 'cloudy' term your referring to is actually 'graduated' \$\endgroup\$
    – NULLZ
    Sep 23, 2013 at 8:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hey, @D3C4FF. Thanks for the tip on the lighting, and for clarifying the terminology. It helped a bit, but the reflection is still there. I've added an example shot with the reflection. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 23, 2013 at 8:23
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ any reason you cant just shoot on a flat black non-reflective surface? I dont see the reflectivity adding anything to a top-down shot... \$\endgroup\$ Sep 23, 2013 at 9:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DarkcatStudios, yep no reason to use it. What I'm really asking is what other surface could I use so that the background shows the same effect as in the angled shot above. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 23, 2013 at 15:38

4 Answers 4


You can't change the laws of physics. One of them is that, in terms of reflections, the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection. If your camera's optical axis is 90° with respect to a reflective surface, you're going to see a reflection of the camera. The only way to change this is to either:

1) Change the angle away from 90° enough that the reflection is out of the camera's field of view.
2) Use a type of 'two-way' mirror to prevent the reflection of the camera by shooting through a translucent glass.
3) Use a non-reflective surface for your background.
4) Use a long enough focal length that allows you to shoot with the camera far enough away that the entire reflection of the camera is masked by the non-reflective items sitting on the reflective surface.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I especially like #4. \$\endgroup\$
    – mskfisher
    Sep 23, 2013 at 12:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks @Michael Clark. Any recommendations for the surface (#3) and lighting that would get me a similar-looking background as in the first shot? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 23, 2013 at 15:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user2636834: Black velvety cloth would prevent all reflections. \$\endgroup\$
    – Daenyth
    Sep 23, 2013 at 17:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ The reason the angled shot looks the way it does is because of the glossy surface that reflects light. If you want that effect you're going to need to shoot using #1, 2, or 4. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Sep 24, 2013 at 2:55

Here's how i'd do it:

Get a big piece of black card / board, make a hole through it in the middle, and stick your lens through it.

How you support it is up to you (ladders, rope, string, chewing gum), but you will want to be sure it is big enough to completely hide any background (ceiling?) in the reflection.


The best bet for table top product photography nowdays is to shoot all as cutouts and use photoshop to drop backgrounds in, its great for composits etc , bear in mind it might be useful to reflect a bit of colour into the edges of the packs or products so it looks more natural, ie if you were planning on dropping the product shot onto a blue background, reflect some blue into it etc. For reflections and lighting have plenty of black, white card and paper handy and of course the pack shot/product photographers best friends "masking tape and blue tack"


Post-process it... the background (i.e., the dark surface) is very smooth, consistent, easily copied to be pasted over the reflection you have.

Any cloning tool will do this job (done in 30secs, using GIMP, for example)

Edited picture

  • \$\begingroup\$ 2 problems with this - you have left a rather blotchy background, and if he wants to do this for a catalog (for example) he isnt going to want to do post on EVERY image. You are fixing the result, not solving the problem. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 23, 2013 at 14:58

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