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02.13.2014

A bottle of red. No it’s not a Billy Joel song. This is the real thing… not Coke; wine. Red, red wine.

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Photographing a red wine bottle presents a few lighting challenges. The first is to define the shape of the bottle itself. It is really a very shiny almost black mirror. Lighting dark, reflective objects is simply adding the highlights that will define its shape.

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Photographing a red wine bottle presents a few lighting challenges. The first is to define the shape of the bottle itself. It is really a very shiny almost black mirror. Lighting dark, reflective objects is simply adding the highlights that will define its shape.

 

© 2013 Kevin Ames | The set is a piece of 4 by 4 post sitting on a table draped in white background paper. The bottle sits on the wood. A pair of 12” by 71” strip boxes provide the highlights that define the edges as well as the shoulder of the bottle.

© 2013 Kevin Ames | The set is a piece of 4 by 4 post sitting on a table draped in white background paper. The bottle sits on the wood. A pair of 12” by 71” strip boxes provide the highlights that define the edges as well as the shoulder of the bottle.

With the lights this close to the bottle the focal length of the lens is critical to the success of the image. Normal or slightly wide lenses place the camera so close to the subject that controlling the reflection of the camera and studio stand in the bottle becomes an issue. For this set up I used the 150mm f/2.8 APO EX DG OS HSM macro lens made by Sigma. This focal length is perfect. The camera is well back from the set allowing room for working around the set both for adjusting the lighting and for adding to the scene. This lens is incredibly sharp and lens elements are multi-coated- it helps reduce flare from the lights and their reflections in the bottle.

A two by three foot soft box above the bottle does two things. First, it lights the label. Second, it puts a reflection on the shoulder of the bottle above the label. The specular highlight reveals the shape of that part of the bottle.

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Any reflection of a light source in a subject is called a specular highlight.

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Any reflection of a light source in a subject is called a specular highlight.

© 2013 Kevin Ames | The reflection’s edges were very defined. A diffusion panel between the overhead soft box and the top of the bottle softens them.

© 2013 Kevin Ames | The reflection’s edges were very defined. A diffusion panel between the overhead soft box and the top of the bottle softens them.

I like the sharp version better.

© 2013 Kevin Ames | There is a reflection at the bottom edge of the bottle that is distracting. It comes from the white paper in front of the block of wood. The ColorChecker Passport is a reference for removing color cast and refining the exposure.

© 2013 Kevin Ames | There is a reflection at the bottom edge of the bottle that is distracting. It comes from the white paper in front of the block of wood. The ColorChecker Passport is a reference for removing color cast and refining the exposure.

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Eliminating the reflection is simple. Black cards placed over the paper do the trick.

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Eliminating the reflection is simple. Black cards placed over the paper do the trick.

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Finally a wooden panel is moved in behind the set, angled away from one edge to create a gradual fall off. A cork added to the composition completes the photograph. Cheers!

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Finally a wooden panel is moved in behind the set, angled away from one edge to create a gradual fall off. A cork added to the composition completes the photograph. Cheers!

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  1. Thank you Kevin for sharing great tips on how to paint with light strobes in a studio. These behind the scenes images of your setup are also helpful.