We’ve featured some of Workphlo‘s brilliant product photography tutorials before, and Dustin Dolby doesn’t disappoint in this latest one. In this video, Dustin shows us how to capture a dramatic beer pour advertising style shot using just basic equipment. He explains that it’s fun to evoke some motion in an image, and pour shots are surprisingly simple to create. The entire set-up is compact and uses only an entry-level DSLR and 3 speedlights.
Dustin starts by showing us how he has set up the glass. He is using a tiny metal plate designed specifically for shooting glasses and bottles because it means that you can get all your equipment in really close to the subject. You don’t have to use one of these if you don’t have one or don’t want to buy one, a small table or surface will work just as well. He positions his main light in an 8×36 inch strip box to the left of the glass. From experience, you do have to play around a little with the angle and position of this strip box to get the highlight you’re after. You can see that this makes a beautiful highlight down the side of the glass defining the shape. Again, if you don’t have a strip box you can use flags to create a thin strip of light.
Next Dustin uses another strip box over the top of the set-up, this will help light up the top of the glass and the can. He places a diffuser from a 5 in 1 reflector over the top of the whole set-up to further soften the light. He just balances the diffuser over the top of the set-up, but if you’re a bit clumsy like I am you may want to clamp it to something to avoid mishaps! Notice the lovely highlight down the length on the top side of the beer can in the photo below.
Next, a bounce card is added to the right-hand side of the setup. This is a simple white card or foam board but bounces the light back, filling the shadows. Finally, a third gridded Speedlight is placed behind the glass to add a spray light to the background. You can experiment with adding different coloured gels for different effects.
The final thing then is to actually pour the beer. Drink pours are generally a bit of a numbers game, and it pays to experiment a bit with both the pouring angle and the speed and flow of the liquid. You can even play around with swirling as you pour. It’s kind of fun, but can be a bit messy so here’s an extra pro tip: use a kid’s paddling pool or tarp under your set-up to catch any spills! Dustin explains that he’s looking for a good foamy head and a strong pour. Here is the entire Behind the Scenes set-up:
Now you can see here that Dustin has actually cut the bottom of the can off and attached it to a stand. This is quite usual in drink pours once you know what angle you want the can or bottle to be so that it stays perfectly still. This is extremely important if you’re going to be compositing any of the images later in post. You can then get a much cleaner pour by using a jug or funnel down the open end of the can, using a remote shutter in the other hand. It also means that you can re-use the same beer (adding salt can actually revive the head on a beer if it’s going a bit flat, but don’t drink it!) meaning less wasted beer, hurrah!
The second part of the video shows us how Dustin would retouch the final image that he’s selected. He shows how he uses the patch tool to remove basic blemishes in the glass and beer can, sorts out any exposure issues in the foam and cleans up the highlights up the side of the glass. It’s very minimal retouching, and that’s part of the beauty of getting it right 90% in camera.
Here is the final image once again:
This is a great tutorial for those wanting to try shooting liquids at home with gear they already have. Splash and pour photography is always fun and always a little unpredictable, but usually creates impressive results. So cheers Dustin, but I have one more question: how did the beer taste?