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Help photographing balloons!

Discussion in 'Help Team' started by steveballoon, Feb 2, 2017.

  1. steveballoon

    steveballoon New Member


    I am hoping to get some help as I am really struggling here.

    I am trying to photograph black helium balloons, and they are really troublesome, basically acting like mirrors so all I see is a warped reflection of the room, including me in the middle

    What Id like to achieve is a simple table-top setup where I can photograph these either sitting on the table, or floating above it. I bought a couple of soft continuous lighting kits in the hope of eliminating direct reflections from things in the room. But now all I see in the balloons is two big white umbrellas!

    How would you photograph black balloons at home?

    We have a Samsung NX3000, but I'd like to think given the right conditions I could get some fairly decent snaps on the iPhone

    Many thanks in advance
  2. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    If they are reflective then all you will get is reflections unless you do something like spray them with matt paint. The only way I know to take a picture of a mirror without the camera appearing in it is to use a shift lens but that is for a flat reflective surface and plane normal to the surface. It would not work for a spherical mirror.
  3. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    Most professionals would likely use a light cube/tent for photographing shiny objects. Only the lens of the camera points through the hole in the side meaning a minimal size of reflection on the subject. With a bit of post processing it can probably be cloned out.

    Another trick I read about is the use of a matting spray of some kind, I believe some people have used L'Oreal's Elnett Satin Hairspray with some success. If using a matting spray I advise checking compatibility with the balloon material - some artificial fabrics and plastic films are liable to degrade in contact with aerosol solvents.
  4. steveballoon

    steveballoon New Member

    Cheers yeh a cube tent I have tried, only a little one which did help somewhat, but I am trying to get a bit more of a "scene". I'll look into a matt spray, sounds like a good idea
  5. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    The other thing to do is to control everything in the shooting area, remove all reflective surfaces as much as possible, anything that might create a highlight reflection. Then get your lights at an angle where they do not reflect directly in the subject. Bounce lighting off a very flat, non-shiny/non-specular surface, such as white polystyrene panels can also help. This is dulling spray: https://www.calphoto.co.uk/product/K-Line-Dulling-Spray-Matte/193-290C.

    If the balloons do not like it, try lots of patience and talcum powder or chalk powder.
    steveballoon likes this.

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