Shooting reflective surfaces can be a tricky task, especially if you’re a beginner. And naturally, we all make mistakes. In this video, Alex Koloskov talks about the three biggest mistakes photographers make when shooting beverages, but he also teaches you how to fix them so you can improve your photos.
1. Shooting without diffusion
Glossy surfaces are like a mirror. In other words, you’ll see the reflection of the light source on the bottle. In Alex’s case, it’s an umbrella, and you can clearly see its reflection on the bottle’s surface.
To fix this, use a softbox. Or better yet, use a stripbox to create more pleasing reflections on the bottle and have less light spill on the background.
2. Creating “flat” reflections
Even if you switch to a stripbox, you can still end up with a flat-looking image. You need to create gradient with your reflections, and this can be done by using a diffuser. You can buy it, but also DIY it to save some cash. Here are a two ideas:
- How to make a DIY scrim jim for less than $80
- $7 DIY diffusion hack and bonus color grading tutorial all in less than 10 minutes
Place the diffuser in front of your stripbox and shoot away. But beware of the third mistake you might make.
3. Creating matte reflections
When you use a stripbox and a diffuser, the reflection will look more pleasing – but alas, it may turn out matte. In my opinion, this isn’t really a mistake. It can look pretty good if that’s the look you’re going for (here’s a handy trick to make glass surfaces look matte). But since we perceive glass bottles as glossy, it may look weird to see a matte reflection on them.
If you’re not going for the matte look, there’s quite an easy fix. Rotate the stripbox so it touches (or almost touches) the diffuser. This way you’ll get a sharp, glossy “line” of the reflection, but keep a pleasing gradient. Experiment with the angles of light and diffuser to make the gradient exactly as you want it.
Now that you know the main mistakes and their fixes, you can expand your knowledge and learn a few more tricks for photographing glass bottles. Alex works on this same bottle in the second part of his tutorial, and you can see it below.
[via ISO 1200]