In this tutorial I'll cover some simple techniques about how to properly manage lighting and reflections on rugged metal. Metal -and every glossy surface- presents some problems when photographing, making it difficult to manage, and it's not clear how to light them.
NOTE: All photos in this tutorial are made without professional equipment. No tripod, no studio lights, no accesories. The camera was an iPhone.
The main problem: contrast
The main problem when photographing any glossy surface is often the contrast. Contrast is the difference between the darkest and the brightest textured areas, in terms of brightness (light units, wherever you use, Candelas, EV stops). Glossy surfaces makes contrast higher because the easily reflects sky, sun or other light fonts over them.
In this example I placed a beautiful AIWA Hs-PL50 over a black rugged plastic carpet, that I bought at a big hardware store here.
Let's see what happens when you try to photograph a walkman with rugged metal housing using direct sunlight:
the result is this:
Metal objects under direct sunlight makes final image to have excessive contrast.
As you can see, the metal texture is almost plain white and the shadow is plain black, although the black background is textured black. This makes the contrast excessive (textured bright tones are gone to plain white and textured dark tones went to plain black).
This is caused because of lighting, that is direct and in this situation. It is much better a soft, diffuse light, to prevent contrast goes excessive. So let's move the set out of sunlight:
Moving out of direct sunlight makes contrast much better, not excessive.
However, contrast is still high because grey metal over a black background is not the easier situation, but it's very nice to eye.