Shooting a stainless steel lighter

Ronson stainless steel lighter - photo by Peter S. Cramp - Artifact Photography
Ronson stainless steel lighter – photo by Peter S. Cramp – Artifact Photography

One of the easiest setups I’ve ever built was this one just to show how little you need to shoot a nice, slightly glamorous image of a small artifact. Originally, I wanted to shoot it on glass, but the angle was so low that both sides of the glass reflected images of the lighter. I happened to have a piece of vinyl sign lettering material handy. I chose black because it goes so nicely with stainless steel.

So, I propped the vinyl on some rolled up bubble wrap I had sitting around, to give it that infinity look. I used one light with a soft box on it on the right side. On the left, I placed a block of wood wrapped in white paper (I use these in book binding) as a reflector.

Cigarette lighter setup
Cigarette lighter setup

I mounted the camera on the table with a suction cup camera mount, because I didn’t feel like moving my tripod. I used my 105mm macro lens, did a couple test shots to get the exposure perfect, and took a couple more shots to find the best angle and did the grey card shot for white balance.

The worst part was going into Photoshop to clean up the dust in the image. Vinyl attracts dust worse than a Swiffer. From concept to done in about an hour. Easy-peasy!

This blog is published every Monday at 9:00 am, Eastern Standard Time. If you have comments, questions, or can think of a better approach, feel free to leave a comment. I’ll try to get back to you with a pithy answer.

Feel free to explore the rest of the Artifact Photography (a division of 1350286 Ontario Inc.) website at