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How to Photograph Retroreflective Material


3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material returns light back to the original light source. When photographing reflective material with a flash camera the material will appear like it is "glowing" in the photograph.

Click here to view diagram.

To decrease the retroreflected light intensity (or "glow") obtained in photographs, make one of the following adjustments.


  1. Increase or decrease the light source using dimmer switches.  Decreasing the light source will decrease the retroreflected light intensity, and increasing the light source will increase the retroreflected light intensity.
  2. Increase or decrease the distance between the light source and the object being photographed.  Moving the light source further away will decrease the retroreflected light intensity, and moving the light source closer will increase the retroreflected light intensity.
  3. Increase or decrease the observation angle formed between the camera lens and the light source, relative to the object being photographed.  An observation angle of 0° provides maximum retroreflected light intensity in the photograph.  An observation angle greater than about 2° will eliminate any retroreflected light from returning to the camera lens, and therefore from showing in the pictures.

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