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101 Studio Lighting: Glossy vs Matte subjects in studio photography

Understanding the Lighting is essential for studio photographers. In product, jewelry and still life photography, we work with 3 types of subjects (by finish): glossy, matte and mix of both.

In this tutorial Alex Koloskov demonstrates you how to properly choose a lighting modifier for a different subject.

Below you see 3 images: first two were done with the exact same lighting, and a third one with a modified version of that single-light setup.

Glossy vs matte subjects in studio photography: lighting techniques explained

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This is a tutorial from Photigy Studio Basics program

Example images from the tutorial

1 light source – subject is almost invisible

1 light source – Exactly the same lightingĀ setup we used for the shot on the left.

1 light source – lighting setupĀ modified according to a subject

Courses mentioned in the video (for further learning)

11 responses on "101 Studio Lighting: Glossy vs Matte subjects in studio photography"

  1. Very good presentation,,, you taught and old dog a new trick…thank you alex

  2. I’m trying to wrap my mind around shooting in a well lit room to get dark moody images.
    What were the camera setting used to get the bottle shots?
    I’m having a bit of trouble trying to figure out ISO etc , Ive worked in TV commercials where all product was shot in a dark studio and I need to somehow get it around my head as to how to get similar results in a bright room. Thxs

    • Ambient light should not effect shots in studio using strobes. When using strobes, it’s not shutter speed that determines exposure, but flash power and aperture. So, if you strobes are much brighter than the ambient light and they only flash for a fraction of a second, that’s the only light you’re picking up. That said, ambient light could become a problem if you’re shooting at like f/2 and it’s really bright. But in general, the stones overpower the ambience making seem as though it was dark in the room.

      • For some reason I can’t edit my comment…. That last line was supposed to read, “But in general, the strobes overpower the ambient light making seem as though it was shot in a dark room.”

  3. Hi Alex, I am from India and learning studio photography. Currently, I have not purchased any lights, stands etc. I have Nikon D3100 only. In most of your tutorials, you use a medium format camera and expensive lights like bowens, etc. I have few questions:
    1) I want to know that Can I achieve same results with less expensive lights like elinchrome ?
    2) Should I buy nikon 810 or canon 5d mark 3?

    Can You also provide in the videos the details like F number, Shutter Speed, Distance of camera and subject, subject and background.
    Can you make tutorials of basic with elinchrome lights, and full frame cameras? or you can mention in your videos that these results can be achieved with inexpensive lights and cameras as well.


    • Hi Manish,
      Yes, you can achieve almost everything with less expensive lighting. Check out the course that I’ve listed under this video, I’ve used $60 speedlites for all images for it – and teach how to do it with any lighting and any camera.

      As for the came there is no difference except your own “like/dislike”. grab each and see what system you like better. You’ll take same photos with either cameras.

  4. Great first challenge for this series of assignments! I might even participate in this one and submit an image. Can I do that and critique in the hangout review? :D

  5. Hi Alex, what is the size and angle of your reflector used in the video?
    Also what is the distance from your table to the wall?

    I’m trying to reproduce your simple shots but in my case I have a lot of spill on my wall which is 2m away, using 21cm 50 degree reflector. I’ll submit my shots to the forum.


    • Slava,
      I’ve used large 48×48 inches diffuser, and about 24×36 inc reflector.
      not sure about the angle – what do you mean?
      As for the distance to the wall, it was about 5-6 meters. Only this way you won;t get much spills.
      I’d suggest you to try to use black screens to cut off unwanted spills to a background.

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