An inspection apparatus and method for specular and semi-specular surfaces include a supporting floor and surrounding background which is non-reflective and light absorbing, such as flat black. Portions of the background and/or floor are illuminated either by allowing translucent passage of light from behind or by illuminating a somewhat reflective but light diffusing surface. The reflected images of the illuminated portions can be viewed in the object being inspected, such as a painted car body in an automobile manufacturing line. Ambient light and direct light to the car body is kept to a minimum. Therefore, a high amount of contrast exists between the reflected images of the illuminated portions and those portions of the car body which reflect the dark background. Geometrical shapes can be used for the illuminated portions to assist in an inspection of the auto body.