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Posted by slowbyte on May 13, 2003 at 13:03:52:
I worked doing forensic photography for 16 years; I had to shoot
in a lot of odd places with a lot of difficult subjects. One useful technique for using flash:
If you have a flash unit that can be directed, aim it up or sideways at a large white or off-white card. The card doesn't need to be perpendicular to the flash either, it works well if the axis of the flash unit and the plane of the card are close to the same angle (flash units tend to have a wide-angle of light dispersion.) This produces a broad, soft (non-specular) light that can gently illuminate many difficult subjects and usually not produce 'hot spots', or small areas of over-exposure. It especially helps with dark or shiny subjects. You can experiment with different sizes of cards; can use shiny or 'flat' (low albedo) material. It helps if your flash unit is automatic -- senses proper exposure and shuts off the light when it is reached. Using this, you may find that you can set the unit for a slight under or over exposure based on previous results, in order to get the best results.
Another tip for success shooting through clear materials such as glass or plexi: get the lens as close as possible to the surface and try to have the predominant light source come from an angle to the lens' axis -- from the top or the side.