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I need tips how to photograph bottles (Wine bottles, perfume bottles). Beside us ing strip light( is 1 strip light sufficient?) to get the shape of the bottle, s hould I also use soft box directly above the product? Is using a pen light as a light brush brings a significant difference? Thanks for the tips.
Have you thought of placing a white paper cut to the shape of the bottle just be hind it ? It will enlighten the content of the bottle.
There are two classic ways to photograph glass and which one you use will depend in part on whether the glass is translucent. That is, if the glass is not so dark or contains such a dark liquid that light can pass through it you can photograph it against a lighted background with perhaps a strip light to illuminate the shoulder of the bottle. Or, and especially if the bottle is opaque, you can put the bottle against a background and light the bottle directly, often with light from above and to the rear and with or without a strip light. more than one strip light is not needed.
Big question, small answer! Overhead softboxes are very 70s for this type of shot & I suggest that you use much harsher lighting, for more dramatic and eye- catching effects. The only advantage of a softbox is that it will light the bottle tops, but you can do this with a spotlight or even by suing silver reflector(s). If bottles are clear and if contents are clear or light, 'backlight' by sticking undersized cutouts (white paper or silver foil) to rear of bottles. This will bring the contents to life. Or you can backlight using a lightbox or a backlit (transmitted or reflected light). if using either of these methods, determine exposure by taking incident reading of background, which gives a very good starting point. Use black 'absorbers' just out of shot to sides of bottles to add modelling and darken edges. Reading between the lines, you don't seem to have much in the way of lighting equipment. Don't worry, use tungsten lighting if necessary. Hope this helps.
Check out Light: Science and Magic (try amazon.com). It has sections on lighting glass, metal, reflective plastic, etc. It explains the principles behind lighting such things so that you can work out what is good for you, and not just copy a light setup.
Hi Theo Tan,
I work for an online wine retail company and we recently published a great 'how-to' guide on photographing wine bottles. It is especially useful if you are trying to do this on a budget.
Glass - bottles - could have a book just to their lighting. I'm not fond of the softlight on top for general bottle lighting. Prefer to light the edges from the sides - back behind the setup, and just out of camera range. A striplight - or any really soft source - just out of the field of view on either side of the bottle will pull up the edges. Make sure to shield the lens from the lights - a good lens hood or scrims to keep from getting flare is really helpful.
Behind the bottle and within the view of the lens, the background can be darker so that the edges of the bottle look bright against it.
Another lighting setup, rather seventies, is to use the bottle directly between a light table and the camera so that the bottle is sort of silhouetted against the light source.
When using the bottle directly against the light source, the background just outside of the view of the camera should be very dark since the refraction of the bottle glass will be "looking" there, and the edges will darken and give you better separation of the bottle.
How many lights? One and a big mirror on the far side of the subject might work. Two - one per side is better. One or more reflectors to brighten up the label will be useful. This kind of work is easier with continuous lighting. Keep adding and moving and subtracting light till it starts looking good.
Both these setups are very sensitive to the location of all the pieces. Try moving things around a little and the picture changes entirely.
Try this link I found it very helpful.
Try cellotaping foil behind the bottle onto mthe bottle, it only has to be small and not the exact size as the liquid in the bottle magnifies the reflected light to fill the whole area when you shine a light at the foil from the side, on my website I have a good example of this with a bottle of Bud Ice where I used this technique http://5x4photography.piczo.com/largeformatcolourphotographs?cr=7&linkvar=000044 good luck and empty bottles are a different story
Get "Light: Science and Majic", which has an excellent section on photographing glass. Also, it is the only lighting book you will ever need.
Beyond lighting one should be aware of not using too short a lens with round objects too far off center.
Use the longest lens you can find or the farther off center you put round objects they will begin to elongate due to uncorrected lens distortion.
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