3 Lighting Setups (And 2 Tips) For Tasty Beverage Lighting

Aug 28, 2015

Laya Gerlock

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!

3 Lighting Setups (And 2 Tips) For Tasty Beverage Lighting

Aug 28, 2015

Laya Gerlock

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!

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beverage-lighting-tips

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.

5

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)

6

Now, play around with how you spray the bottles and you will get different kinds of beads (corn syrup for the win!).

Setup Beverage

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)

On-White

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.

Setup On White (1) Setup On White (2)

Step 3. Place another light with a softbox to the opposite side of the subject.

Setup On White (6) Setup On White (7)

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.

Setup On White (8)

Setup On White (4)

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.

Setup On White (3)

Final Result

Beverage 2

 

On Black

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.

Setup Coke (2)

Setup Coke (1)

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.

Setup Coke (3)

Setup Coke (5)

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.

Setup Coke (4)

Final Result:

Beverage 1

I played around with the angle of the snoot to get a different light on my subject.

Beverage 4

Extra!

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).

FUJI9203

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.

Setup Beer (2)

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.

Setup Beer (3)

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.

Setup Beer (4)
Setup Beer (1)

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.

Setup Beer (6)

Setup Beer (10)

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.

Setup Beer (8)

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.

Setup Beer (9)

Final Result:

Beverage 5

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Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock

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!

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6 responses to “3 Lighting Setups (And 2 Tips) For Tasty Beverage Lighting”

  1. nmilasev Avatar
    nmilasev

    Hey man, nice tutorial, and about the beads for the ice cubes – I bought some from this guy and I’m very satisfied with the quality (and the price), so check it out:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/300-Faceted-Bicone-Acrylic-Spacer-Beads-8x8mm-M0141-/191161994100?var=490321087083&hash=item2c82248b74

    1. LSG Avatar
      LSG

      It’s a big problem when buying stuff from ebay when living in the Philippines. It takes a lifetime to get here and the customs people will tax you like crazy. haha. but thanks for leaving a comment

  2. cbenci Avatar
    cbenci

    Hi Laya, really enjoy your articles mate. Picked up some great tips from this one.

    More please! :)

  3. Stereo Reverb Avatar
    Stereo Reverb

    Very nice article! (I like the Karo syrup idea)

  4. eatstory Avatar
    eatstory

    Fabulous article! Simple and straightforward and beautifully illustrated with the images. thanks a ton! :-)

  5. Ayan Nandy Avatar
    Ayan Nandy

    thank you very much.but yesterday i was trying beer photography putting beer into the glass placing gold,silver and white card seperately and subject was in black acrylic but the problem is that three types of shades lights is coming into the beer. upper portion of the beer is dark yellow, in the middle light yellow and in the bottom black is coming….