Lighting smooth surfaces
No texture is also a texture, and at its most extreme is a mirror polish that needs a different lighting approach
The word ‘texture’ suggests some roughening of the surface; something for the fingertips to actually feel. At the smooth end of the scale the sensation is more subtle, but even a shiny surface has a texture. And wetness, too, is a variety of texture.
In the case of very smooth surfaces, the low light from a sharp source of light won’t do much, because shiny surfaces have to reflect something. Controlling that reflection is the key to lighting smooth subjects, and – in the case of liquids – to getting across the sensation of wetness. The solution is to use a light source that’s broad and even – and broader than the thing you’re shooting. In this example, the source is the sky, but controlled in the sense that we’re in a garden enclosed by high walls, so that the sky appears as more like a skylight.
The next essential ingredient is angle: that of the camera to the surface and the surface to the light. Camera, light and subject need to be aligned so that the surface catches the light. In a studio, the equivalent is a large softbox; the larger the subject, the larger (or closer) the softbox needs to be.
A waxed table after a heavy rain shower. The maple leaf stuck to its glistening surface helps to exaggerate the feeling of wetness