These simple wine bottle photography tips shooting on a white background will help save valuable time and money. Following these simple tips will take away the frustrations of controlling reflections and lighting leaving you plenty time to sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of your labour 🙂
Wine bottle photography on a white background
We’ve chosen a white background as that is the most common and often the most challenging background to shoot on but this technique makes it easy peasy. A common misconception is you need more and more lights piled on to achieve a successful product photography shoot. Any professional product photographer will tell you this is not the case. In this tutorial we use only two 3 watt LED lights.
A translucent white background is essential. This allows us to position our first light behind the background to give us an even, diffused flat area with no hot spots. We used the Modahaus Tabletop Studio Pro TS400 which is the ideal size for wine bottles. As the TS400 can be used in the upright as well as the standard orientation you could even capture a Magnum sized bottle of champers. Any translucent polymer or acrylic works well but avoid paper backgrounds as paper fibre base shows up gray when lit from behind.
We used 2 x 3 Watt LEDs called JANSJO from Ikea costing around $10/£10 each. We love these gooseneck lights for our product photography as they allow you to target the shape and intensity of your light exactly where you need it. They are not daylight balanced so you’ll need to set ‘custom white balance’ on your camera which is a very easy setting on digital cameras.
The translucent white backdrop is illuminated from behind with an even pool of light covering the majority of the background to the wine bottle. As we want this to be a pure white background this will be the brightest part of the whole image. The backlight will also illuminate our wine in this case.
We then set up the TS400 ‘Smartcase’ as a softbox with the second LED light front facing. This serves two purposes. Firstly it gives a soft diffused light to illuminate the bottle label and closure and secondly it creates an illuminated ‘flag’ that gives a subtle reflection highlight on the bottle surface. We angled the LED light upwards which reduces the amount of light falling on the front of the bottle. This is crucial to balancing the front lighting with the backlighting. Remember, we want the backlighting to be the brightest lighting in the frame to give us a white background. When viewing this lighting set up, to the naked eye, it will appear that there is not enough light on the label but don’t be tempted to pile on more light. We’ll sort that with exposure.
Exposure and camera settings
The Camera we’re using is the Canon EOS 100D/Rebel SL1 with the basic 18-55mm kit lens on tripod.
- 100 ISO
- Custom white balance (not required if daylight balanced light used)
- Spot metering
- Aperture priority (AV) f8
- Lens focal length 49mm (35mm Equiv = 78mm)
- Exposure compensation + 2 stops giving shutter speed of 1.6 seconds
- Self timer set to 2 second delay
- Manual focus
ISO 100 selected to minimise noise and maximise detail. Custom white balance eliminates any colour cast when using non-daylight balanced lighting. Don’t be tempted to leave this to post processing as a colour cast can be deceptive when assessing correct exposure. Spot metering helps keep camera meter ‘in the zone’. Aperture of f8 gives us sufficient depth of field and is in the lens sweet spot zone. Lens focal length set to avoid wide angle distortion. We established correct exposure compensation by shooting a few bracketed shots. Using self timer eliminates any possible camera shake when releasing shutter and we trust our manual focus when using the tripod.
We shot in a darkened room – i.e. no other extraneous light permitted. Both lights used were identical colour temperature. We intentionally used very low output light here to demonstrate the principle that piling on more and more light is not the solution to good product photography. It’s more about how you balance your lighting and control your exposure. The same principals apply to other product photography subjects shot with DSLRs, Compact camera’s and Smartphones.
The end result is a straightforward wine bottle shot on a white background and the set up is very repeatable. What we mean by ‘repeatable’ is, if you have a selection of plonk bottles you need to shoot for a catalogue, for example, you can simply plonk one bottle after another into the set up and shoot a whole batch in double quick time thus leaving you loads and loads of time to really enjoy the fruits of your labour! Hic! 😉
Further tips on wine bottle photography over here where we show Wine bottle photography with 1 light and the TS400 Black Bottle strip.
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