Project 52

Week 11 - A Very Shiny Object

I have to start this post by stating that I love pumpkin anything.  Pumpkin pie, bread, cake, doughnuts (especially doughnuts) name it.  Over the past few years, the craft beer industry has been brewing Pumpkin Ales for autumn release.  I probably had the best pumpkin beer I ever had last year, when I was on a photo trip with a friend in Oregon taking pictures of the coast. Unfortunately I don't remember what brand it was, because it was on draft (I'd definitely remember the label if I'd had a bottle).  When this week's assignment of "a very shiny object" was released, I decided that brown beer bottles counted as shiny objects because that gave me an excuse to try a variety of this year's pumpkin ales after the shoot was over.  Fortunately the local liquor store allows you to create your own six pack, so the stars were aligned with my plans.

The reason for this week's assignment is simple - shiny objects are VERY hard to take a picture of, as they reflect everything.  I did some research in craft beer magazines and on-line, and the best way to represent a bottle is to get a white outline on the edges to give the bottle shape, put some light through the bottles to give it a bit of "life" and not look black, and the final trick is getting the labels illuminated enough to read them without putting a big white shiny spot on the front of the glass.

I quickly realized that I didn't have enough lights (huge eye rolls from Doug) to achieve everything I wanted to in one shot, so I knew I'd have to make a composite in Photoshop.  Once this was determined, I focused on building up the shot, one aspect / light source at a time.  I started with the light shining through the bottles.  After a few attempts, I put an orange gel on this so the light shining between the bottles wasn't too bright white.  Once I got that to my liking, I moved on to the light on the background, which I also gelled orange.  Illuminating the sides of the bottles came next.  That took a few attempts, especially with five bottles, but the biggest challenge was the labels.  I ended up using a grid on a light to almost "spot light" one or two bottles at a time, and in the process, got some light on the pumpkins.  The final image is a blend of eight shots, which stretched my photoshop skills, but I learned a few things in the process.  All in all, there was quite a bit of problem solving involved, but that's where years' experience in a day job starts to help with my photography...

I wanted the final image to be a bit dark - along the lines of Halloween / a spooky feel, but it might be a bit too dark.  Your thoughts? 


The beer has been put in the refrigerator and I'm anxious to give them a try.  Next week's image is to shoot a close up (an area not larger than 4" x 4") of "the hottest electronic gizmo."  I've borrowed a friend's drone, so we'll see where it goes!  Thanks for hanging in!

Behind the scenes of my pumpkin beer shoot

Behind the scenes of my pumpkin beer shoot