Crack A Cold One

Summer is coming and I know in many parts of the country, this will be a popular sight. When I go out to restaurants, I like to look at all of the “table tents” that have the advertising for all the different beer companies. As a photographer, I have always wanted to try to replicate what was on these advertising pieces. I usually get so caught up looking over all the material, I forget what I’m there for. When the server comes back and asks, “What did we decide on?” I have this deer in the headlights look. “Sorry, I was admiring your menus?” Get pick up line, especially when you wife is sitting across the table giving you the “hairy eye ball” because she is hungry and wants to eat!

After taking a few “mental snapshots”, I went back to the house and recreated what I had seen. Food photography can be tricky. It usually involves complex set ups, fake props and fake food. My goal here was to make this as easy and streamlined as possible. Ironically, I don’t drink so I had to go to the store to buy some beer! Please look at the lighting diagram below to see the set up.

How I photographed this…
This may look complicated, but once we break it down into the individual pieces you will see that it’s fairly easy. I did use three flashes for this photo.

1) I found a big blank white wall in our house. This had some texture on it but it didn’t matter as the shallow depth of field would blur it. I placed a wooden T.V. tray about eight feet away from the wall.

2) First, I cleaned the beer bottle with some window cleaner. It’s amazing how dirty these bottles can get in transit. I placed the bottle at the back edge of the T.V. table. This is important, you will see why in a minute.

3) We’ll start in the back and work our way forward. I placed a SB800 flash on the floor with the head pointing up at a 45 degree angle, zoomed out to 24mm pointed at the wall. I wanted a blue background so I placed a full cut of color temperature blue (CTB) on the flash head. Our background is all set.

4) Next, I placed another SB800 on a light stand. I positioned the flash head so it was about 1/4 inch from the bottle. Why? I didn’t want to be able to see the flash from the camera’s position. I lowered the light stand so the flash head would be at the bottom of the bottle. Here, I added a full cut of color temperature orange (CTO) and zoomed the flash head out to 105mm to contain the light just to the bottle. Something to think about, if we didn’t light the bottle, it would have come out black. Budweiser comes in brown bottles and the beer inside is a amber color. What will help sell this product, is if you can see the beer inside. Make sense?

5) Our last light is a SB800 in a shoot through umbrella. The umbrella was placed above and at camera left to the bottle. The purpose of this light is not to light the bottle or beer, but to light the labels.

6) Lastly, the camera. I had the camera mounted on the tripod with an electronic release attached. It was fitted with a 18mm-200mm lens set at f/5.6. I moved the camera back and zoomed the lens out to 200mm. Why? Remember that texture on the wall? This will make it blur so you won’t even know it’s there. This is the same technique that I used in the Weeds Are Beautiful Too post.

7) I took a test photo and saw where I was. I made a few adjustments to the lights and we were off to the races.

I hope this makes sense after we stepped through it. Again, it looks more complicated than it really is. This would work well with any type of liquid. If the container is clear, then the product inside will really come to life.

Until next time…

Keep Your Glass Clean


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