1 beer bottle, 5 flash positions

Golden Sheep Ale, beer, Black Sheep brewery

There are numerous tutorials on the internet explaining how to photograph bottles of beer, wine, vodka (insert tipple of your choice). However, they all consist of multiple light set-ups, many of which would be very expensive to replicate in your own home. I decided to see if I could recreate a similar image using a single Yongnuo speedlight. Here is how I did it.

Because I was going to have to re-position the speedlight several times during the shoot I locked the camera onto a tripod. I was attempting this in my lounge, mid-afternoon so I dialed in settings similar to those used to create low key images (ie. shutter speed 1/200 & aperture f/16 to give a completely black image). After focusing on the bottle I switched to manual to stop the camera hunting between images. I also had the 10 second shutter delay function active as I didn’t have my remote switch handy.

I placed the speedlight as follows:

  1. Directly behind the bottle (power 1/128). This would give the glow inside.
  2. Facing down onto the bottle with the pop down diffuser on the flash.
  3. From the side & slightly behind the bottle (power 1/32), still diffused. This would highlight the edges (see below). Repeat for the other side.
  4. In front of the bottle, angled 45 degrees downwards (1/2 power), diffused. This is to illuminate the label.

Side lit beer bottle

Once I had my images it was simply a case of uploading them to Photoshop Elements, dragging each one in turn onto one another, checking their alignment (very important just in case the camera had moved slightly), adding a layer mask Alt + Add Layer Mask & revealing the parts of that image I required using a soft edged brush.



Week 22

Settings: f/16, 1/200 second, ISO 100, 50mm prime

Set up. Fill a fish tank, two-thirds full & place an external flash at one end (camera left). Position a reading light shining downwards towards the middle of the tank. A remote shutter release was used to avoid camera shake. Synchronize the shutter to coincide with the lemons hitting the water. Make sure to wipe clean the glass of the tank in between each shot (a window squeegee comes in handy for this). Also, don’t forget to protect your flash from water splashes (I used a ziplock, sandwich bag simply placed over the top).

Opinion.  I enjoyed this the set up & shoot. However, the lemons in the final image aren’t really that sharp. I think my mistake was attempting this project in a room that wasn’t completely dark (or at least, the settings on the camera have to produce a black image without any flash in order to completely freeze the motion). It was still a lot of fun to do.