Beer is a really fun subject for product photography; because its in the bottle or a glass making good light and great specular highlights is a challenge, it really is only liquid glass and branding you are provided with so the rest of the story and image you get to play with and create yourself, if your shooting a ‘live’ beer shot (out of bottle/poured) you only have a brief amount of time to make all the stars align and capture everything in the frame.
This summer I went on a trip to Glacier National Park (a couple shots on the DIY PW-push button blog are from that trip), while there I cashed in on the local micro breweries and their less taxed beer to bring back some more interesting products to shoot and drink. After a long and overly complicated process of shopping for and constructing scrims (nylon sheets suspended by a rectangle of PVC pipe) I am now able to get back into the ‘studio’ and shoot.
I’m sure 95% of the readers went and looked at the pictures already and then started reading what I just wrote (way to exercise self control there champ!) so i’ll stop rambling about not the picture and show you the picture, then talk about the picture.
When I setup the shot I split some cedar shakes to make the set, tossed the beer in the frame, worked on the lighting and got to taking the picture shown below.I pulled up one of my camping chairs (my studio is in the garage). “This sucks.” Well, fairly, the image doesn’t ‘suck’ but definitely not the type of picture I was looking to make. It would be perfectly fine if I was going to be shooting 30 beers consecutively in the same set as per requested by a client. But there was nothing about my work which made me happy.
So I continued to sit in the camping chair for a minute or two, mulling over the picture and dipping into my insecurities of ‘this sucks, I suck…’ before getting up and taking a look at what I had to work with.
Only one of the product, can’t make it a ‘live shot’ too easily (only one product you’d only have a single chance), its already 11pm and I have to work in the morning, hmm. lighting, location, branding, logo, LOGO! bingo it clicked.
Well it didn’t quite click yet, the idea was there it would just take a little bit of fussing. My ideas have a tendency to get overly technical, so figuring out how to take ideas and put them into binary code on my compact flash card can be difficult and frustrating.
Initial Photograph which needed a major overhaul.
The Idea was to incorporate the logo of Deschutes Brewery, in the actual photography, however keeping the beer quite prominent by making the logo translucent, so it appears as more part of the environment.
After a little homage to Mr. Dressup with cardboard and scissors, several minutes adapting the set and thinking through the lighting process I got the shot first try. Which, as every person who has picked up a camera knows, is extremely gratifying. The image (once again is the top image) is a 5 shot multiple exposure in camera (shutter opens 5 times making a single image). The exposures were; two with the red Deschutes Brewery logo, one without the logo, and two holding a black sheet infront of the background. I chose to have two with the black sheet to drop the exposure on the background about one stop without having to completely reorganize my setup in the already cramped garage.
If you haven’t played with multiple exposures before give it a try, definitely some fun to be had with them. Unfortunately for Canon users you cannot do multiple exposures in camera. So grab a nikon, or a film camera where you can cock the shutter without winding the film. For Nikon users the camera averages the two exposures taken (if you take two correctly exposed pictures you get one correctly exposed frame, not 1 stop over). I would be very happy if Nikon added additive multiple exposure (take two shots correctly exposed and you would get 1 stop over exposed) it would allow for some more shots i’d like to try, but currently have to execute on film.