View Full Version : Shooting a product...wine?

09-24-2008, 03:05 PM
So One of my best friends out in Cali wants me to shoot photos of there wine bottles for them. The ones they had done look like crap...labels are dark and there are glares.

I have never shot a product, let alone glass. So I am sure it can be tricky.

I am looking for tips and pointers...I am going to stop tonight and grab a couple bottles and practice.

Any help on what kind of setup I should use would be greatly appreciated!


09-24-2008, 03:18 PM
Lighting, lighting, and more lighting. You need a lot of diffused lighting when doing studio shots (either through a diffuser or bounced off of an umbrella) - I'd go with lamps instead of flash, though, as flash can be tricky to calibrate on glass.

If you can, shoot the bottles on a glass table, with a white sheet and strong lighting from underneath.

DonKondra's setup in this thread: http://www.dcresource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=41040

Is actually a good start, and the Windex and glass bowl show the kind of pictures you can get with good underlighting through the glass.

09-24-2008, 03:47 PM
You can use circular polarising filter to minimise unwanted reflections. Do you have an external flash?

09-25-2008, 05:57 AM
jekostas- That looks like a fantastic setup!!!

I was also wonder if I want to shoot the bottles possible on the beach...looking into making something like this...


Spider- I do not have an external flash...yet!

I have a polarizer...but it is a cheap one and I dont really like to use it.

09-25-2008, 07:09 AM
With a separate flash, you often have the option to bounce the flash off the walls or ceiling and so get good illumination across the room.

But you can do this with cameras having a built-in pop-up flash too. All you have to do is to make a DIY diffuser - either using an old film container:


or a ping-pong ball, empty cigarette pack, yoghurt cup (use your imagination)...


Improvise, improvise ;)

09-26-2008, 03:03 PM
I'd love to try shooting some wine - I'd probably start with set up like this:


Which then will give you something like:


Good luck.

09-26-2008, 08:27 PM
I really like that look, but they are looking to be able to read the label really well...

I might try that just for fun to see how it turns out!!!

09-27-2008, 03:05 AM
gsus, that is an empty glass against a black background. if your bottle has a label on it, it should work fine. look at aparmley's flickr stream, there are lots of examples of bottles with labels that look like they're exactly what your looking for.

09-27-2008, 08:36 AM
MY apologies maniac. I'll pick up a bottle of wine to show you what that set up can do.

09-27-2008, 10:26 AM
This sounds like a truly budget operation. Perhaps you could try the lamp that comes on every day for an average of 12 hours. Find a place outside with bright shade and rig up a stage for your product. You will need to spend some time at the fabric store (velvet material work great, no reflections, and cheaper versions are not that expensive). You will also have to figure out how to support the material. I would build a box of some sort, but I'm a woodworker. Cardboard is easier to work with and also to dispose of if you don't want it anymore.

It will be hard to get sophisticated lighting in a budget setup like this, but you should be able to get a nice flat light with a decent background.

For white wines, I recommend a natural, very pale, yellow or green, or an off white. This will help show the color of the wine. For reds, you can be more creative, since the bottle basically looks black.

09-27-2008, 11:50 AM
When thinking about product shots with a budget...I came up with this setup while bouncing flash off the ceiling.....


To get shots like this..... :)


09-27-2008, 07:20 PM
Aparmley- I would love to see some shots!

Budget isnt to terribly small..and I am very creative and decent at building things. I like the dual flash setup, you think that would work with nice directional lamps instead of flashes? I really like the look of the picture if I can see the labels and all...

And Faisal, I like that idea also...very creative!

09-30-2008, 07:14 PM
Well, heres what I have so far. Lighting is way way way more difficult that I thought. Please any C&C I would more than appreciate!





Don Kondra
09-30-2008, 10:17 PM
Pretty good start but the reflection on the necks is quite distracting.

Can you post a pic of your set up?

This is my latest test set up cobbled together and draped with a old doubled up mattress cover :)


And the results... the background is a little blown but maybe this will help?

The important thing is diffusing the lights through the cloth, for this particular piece it was the only way to reduce the shine on the top of the box.


Cheers, Don

09-30-2008, 10:20 PM
Wow, looks like a great job to me. What was your setup?

Don Kondra
09-30-2008, 10:27 PM
Actually, on second thought, I'd be tempted to just clone out the shine.

Everything else is pretty darn good :)

Really quick and dirty...


Cheers, Don

09-30-2008, 11:25 PM
I vote to keep the shine :)

10-01-2008, 12:31 AM
Well I guess it would have been smart to grab a shot of the set-up but I didn't. I had a platform with a rear wall for draping the backdrop. Then I tried several ways of lighting. I used the metal bowl style lights with 100W soft white bulbs.

Methods of diffusing light-
1. Draping a sheet up and around the bottle like Don, then diffusing the light through a thin paper before shining it on the sheet. No good, I could still see the burned light spots on the kneck.
2. Diffusing the light through three layers...two layers of paper and then an opaque milky plexi-glass Failed again
3. Setting it on plexiglass with a white background and base and lighting from underside and sides.
4. Pretty much tried diffusing it any way I could think of and I still either could light the label well enough, or couldnt get rid of the spots.

So instead I got creative. I simply setup my back drop. Lowered my camera to get a different perspective, because the straight on shots were just dull and blah. Then used my remote on my manual setting to control how long of an exposure I took. I would open the shutter and quickly glide one light by hand diffused only by a piece of paper taped to the front across the top of the camera to make sure I lit the entire front of the bottle and then I would sweep to the side and down the bottle. I dont know if that makes sense, but it was just a fluid sweeping motion with the light and then I would close the shutter.

I figured if I couldn't hide the light, I would try and use it to show and accent the shape of the bottle. When I would clone the light out...and I am a pretty damn good with the clone stamp, I just couldn't seem to like the all dark bottle. It just felt like there was no shape and depth to the pictures.

When she looks at them tomorrow, I will see if she likes it and report back...I could be at this all over again tomorrow night!

Thanks for all the tips, I wish I would have kept a couple of the pictures from my failed lighting attempts...maybe next time :c)

10-01-2008, 01:53 AM
I vote to keep the shine :)

I like that shine too :)

10-01-2008, 02:13 AM
+3 on the highlight. good job.

10-01-2008, 09:15 AM
Don't worry too much about light reflecting off the bottles. That just means they are clean and made of glass.

But be careful of what is in your foreground. For instance, how many of us have taken a picture of something shiny, only to find our own reflection in the image. Other than your camera and tripod, you don't want to have anything out there that can reflect off the glass that will be out of context, and you want to ensure that your primary light source is angled to keep you from appearing on the bottle.

I'm not saying a saw this, but it's just a consideration you should keep in mind when you are doing your final shoot.

10-01-2008, 10:33 AM
They loved the shots...I dont have to reshoot them!

These are two of the shots that a hired photographer gave them. They were not happy at all...that is why they gave me a chance!

And I found out I am getting paid! I was content with the 3 $40 bottles of wine.



10-01-2008, 11:32 AM
They loved the shots...I dont have to reshoot them!

These are two of the shots that a hired photographer gave them. They were not happy at all...that is why they gave me a chance!

And I found out I am getting paid! I was content with the 3 $40 bottles of wine.

Congrats on those wine bottle shots and getting paid! :D
Your shots are definitely waaay better and far more creative than the photographer they hired.

10-01-2008, 02:13 PM
I'm glad they liked them. I wasn't a fan of looking up at the bottles but if the people who are paying you like them, then you're great!

10-03-2008, 07:39 PM
Gsus - so far so good man. oops my bad, congrats on the job well done. I can't believe that other guy slept at night after getting paid for those. . . insane. you mopped the cellar floor with that hack.

The "Shine" you guys are referring to is what is called a "Specular Highlight" and they are very important, but they must be controlled and used appropriately. I'm still learning this stuff, but the strobist in me saw the spec. highlight right off and wished it was in another place.

I took a shot tonight of the closest thing I had to a wine bottle. Its not ideal for wine shots but it shows the label nicely:


I kept my spec highlights on the edges for separation.

For more info to help you in the future check out: http://strobist.blogspot.com/2007/07/lighting-102-unit-22-specular-highlight.html

10-03-2008, 07:55 PM
Thanks aparmley...that was a really good read! And that Cuervo shot...looks awesome.

Don Kondra
10-03-2008, 08:05 PM
Just a quick thought, better late than never :)

After all of my tests with my cobbled together light tent sitting on a light table I came up with a plan to make a permanent and easily assembled series of frames with fabric attached.

Then reality set in, time is money after all and just because I can build it doesn't mean it's the most efficient way to go :)

I ordered a Smith Victor LB-48 48" Light tent, total cost delivered $120.


Cheers, Don

10-03-2008, 08:20 PM
Can we see some pics from it Don? Im interested!

Don Kondra
10-03-2008, 10:30 PM
Oh, you'll be seeing some pic's from it :cool:

Just ordered it today :D

Normally takes a couple of weeks to arrive here in the soon to be frozen north, sigh....

Cheers, Don

10-04-2008, 11:17 AM
Aparmley, you have a excellent understanding of fill flash and lighting. I like this a lot.

I'd love to try shooting some wine - I'd probably start with set up like this:


Which then will give you something like:


Good luck.

10-04-2008, 03:31 PM
Thank you very much Chris - it feels like I'm just barely scratching the surface.