Desktop Closeup Photography 5 - shadow free lighting © 2007

Using the "BOWL"
Metallic objects reflect light (flash) and easily hot spot. Their surface acts like a mirror and reflects everything around it. Withe the flash the foreground is wiped out with the high specular reflection, and without it you can even see the photographer (me) and the tripod in the reflection. Also a pretty good look at the entire surroundings.
Using the bowl, encases the object in a nearly clean reflective environment. The WHITE or TRANSLUCENT bowl will allow light passage through it, and act as a strong diffuser to give soft lighting.

The flash works through the bowl, and/or other external lights can be used. Directional lighting from outside can produce very soft directional shadows, but barely.

Lighting can also be done from the bottom, using a light box or home made light box, the illumination is from below but fills the bowl and reflects back down onto the subject material. This produces nearly perfect illumination with no shadows. The lack of shadows make surface detail nearly disappear. See image below.

Only the hole area is evident in reflections.

This is the same sphere as photographed above but using the bowl. Not the best possible conditions for shooting a sphere, but it shows the reflections (or lack thereof). Also notice there are no shadows on the orange background material, and none of the scratches in the metal even show up.