3 Lighting Setups (And 2 Tips) For Tasty Beverage Lighting
I was inspired by Allen Mowery’s post on creating fake Ice cubes for beverage photography, but after a month I still can’t find clear craft beads here in my country. While I am trying to find those clear craft beads I wanted to share a tutorial with some tricks and lighting techniques you can use for non-fake-ice beverage shots. So here are 3 different lighting techniques for shooting tasty beverages.
Of course we need something to shoot so I went down to the local store and got 2 cans of sodas a beer, and a bottle of corn syrup (yuk!) for demoing. This is what they look like under dull lighting.
How to create Fake Moisture
The first thing I did was to heat some water and mixed it with the corn syrup. The mixture is about 1 part syrup to 2 parts hot water. Mix it well then put it in a spray bottle (the kind they use in hair saloons)
Now, play around with how you spray the bottles and you will get different kinds of beads (corn syrup for the win!).
What you will need:
- A camera (duh!)
- Some speedlights
- a softbox
- Wireless Flash triggers
- Snoot (or DIY Snoot)
- A Scrim – (Or some tracing paper or an acrylic sheet)
The first lighting setup we will explore is a classic On-White Setup.
Step 1. Start by placing your subject on a white reflective surface. You can use formica or a white acrylic sheet for this. Set a white background and make sure that there is some space between the surface and background. I was using a seamless white paper as background and a small table with an acrylic sheet as surface.
Step 2. Place a light with a softbox to the side of your subject.
Step 3. Place another light with a softbox to the opposite side of the subject.
Step 4. Getting your background to pure white. Place a bare light on the bottom of your table pointing at the white seamless paper. Normally this light should be 2 stops over your main lights.
Step 5. Place a scrim on to one side of the subject and curve it towards the front of your camera. This will bounce some more light on the front of the subject.
Step 1. Shoot against a Black background and place your subject on a black reflective surface. I used my favorite prop for this setup. A granite tile.
Step 2. Place a light with a softbox behind and to the side of the subject pointing directly at the subject just to get a good rim light going on the side of the subject.
Step 3. Place another light with a softbox on the opposite side of the first light. Make sure both lights are even to get even rims on the subject.
Step 4. For the main light, get another light source, I was using a small Yongnuo 460 flash, and placed a snoot on it. I used a DIY snoot made out of illustration board. Place this last light above the camera pointing down at the subject.
I played around with the angle of the snoot to get a different light on my subject.
Of course a dark setup like this absolutely requires some light painting. Set the camera for some longer exposure (5-6 seconds) and turn all the lights off. Then you can light-paint the back using a small LED flash. (I used the LED flash of my phone covered with a red gel).
Beer with Gel
Step 1. For this last setup, I placed my subject – a beer bottle – on a DIY wooden table. I was also shooting against a simple black wall.
Step 2. Place a light with a softbox on one side of your subject.
Step 3. Get a piece of white cardboard or illustration board and place it behind the bottle, angle it at about 45 degrees, so it catches the light coming from the softbox.
As you can see, the illustration board acts as a reflector and illuminates the inside of the bottle. Now cut the illustration board until you can’t see it behind the bottle.
Step 4. Place another light with a softbox on the opposite side of your first light and place it towards the back of your subject to get rim lighting on the side of the bottle.
Step 5. Now place a small silver reflector on the right side of the bottle to get some fill on the label of the bottle. Place another light at the back with gel to get some background light.
I placed a bare studio strobe with a yellow gel for the background.
Step 6. To soften the light from your main light more, place a scrim in front of it and you can also angle it towards the camera. I got my white acrylic sheet and placed it in front of my main light.
Laya Gerlock is a Portrait and Product photographer based in the Philippines. His passion is teaching and sharing his knowledge in Photograpy and has been doing this for 6 years. You can follow his work on his web page, follow him on Flickr and if you happen to come by Cubao, Quezon City (To Manila, Philippines) he gives a great workshop!