Here’s a bit more detail about the setup for the wine photography. I’ll be posting more pics over the next few days, including some examples of the continued challenges that I faced with different bottles. Can you say black label w/ silver foil lettering?
In the opening shot you see the camera on a tripod, and the laptop I was using to shoot tethered in the foreground. Shooting tethered to a laptop using Lightroom 3 is a really fantastic solution when you want to see big, real-time, high detail previews. As good as the LCD screens have gotten on the back of cameras, they are still not nearly as good as “real” monitors. It would be been much more challenging to create really high quality end results if every time I had to check the detail work I had to take out the card, load it into Lightroom, and then make changes. When shooting tethered, you can even apply your previous picture’s settings such as crop and rotate!
When photographing something like a wine bottle, it is incredibly challenging to take a photo without any specular highlights. The mat boards on either side of the bottle are there to keep stray light from coming in and creating highlights. The strip lights also created highlights on the bottle when they fired. In the end, I ended up shooting two shots, one w/ each strip light, and actually physically turned the inactive light around backwards or the white diffusion fabric of the inactive light would still cause a small highlight when light by the white backdrop.
Here is another view of the front lights and one of the backdrop lights. While I am working in a fairly constrained space, my goal was to keep the backdrop lights as much off of actual product itself. The backdrop itself ended up being a major light source for the photo, especially for the white wines. Unlike a traditional white backdrop or cyc wall, however, I could not simply blow out the background or the color of the wine would end up changing too drastically, or blow out itself! Again you can see the large mat board pieces in the photo. Not only do they serve to keep the backdrop lights from directly hitting the glass, they also serve to surround the bottle in white as much as possible. Without draping a giant sheet around the entire setup it is very challenging to get rid of *all* of the specular highlights or in this case the red wall highlights!
Here is one more angle showing the back side and the other background light. On the right side you can see additional mat board used to extend the white background of the seamless. And seamless it was NOT, which turned out to be another interesting point. I ended up running a piece of gaff tape along the mat board and seamless because the simple, small gap between the two caused a shadow, which created a thin but highly visible black line down the side of the bottle. Just to make matters more confusing, in the liquid, the reflections are reversed. So the reflections on the RIGHT side of the bottle are from problems on the LEFT side of the frame.
And finally, here is an example of the two-shot composite. It was a very simple and quick edit. I highlighted the two images in Lightroom, one with each of the two front flashes having fired, and then selected EDIT – OPEN IN LAYERS IN PHOTOSHOP. Once they were opened, I just changed the blend mode of the top image to DARKEN and, voila, the darker parts of the images “won” and the strip light highlights on the glass simply vanished.