Cheap and cheerful solution for Mike

by jeffarmstrong

This is for an audience of one. Hello Mike.

I bet you were expecting a SIMPLE answer… hahahaha…

OK, how do you get a clean white background so you don’t have to do a cut out?

The simple answer is: your back light should be twice as strong as your front light. An approximate example of this would be the contrast between light inside a shaded room falling on an object (whiskey bottle in this case) with the mid day afternoon sun behind it. You, however, are in Scotland and I am sure you do not have the time to wait for such extraordinary events.

My solution for you: I was thinking about you I mean it, the solution, in the shower and this is the best and cheapest option. You WILL have to buy some stuff but we will keep that to a minimum.

OK, so here is what you’llneed McGiver:

  1. 1 extra flash (no you cannae use a light bulb ’cause you need extreme contrast and you want to light you bottle properly) Get the cheapest of ebay, gumtree, whatever. I suggest getting two but we’ll keep it real cheap so you can use your on camera flash as well.
  2. Something to set off the extra flash. I am assuming your using an SLR. For this it may not matter but if you are check if it’s got a pc sync socket. Then you can use a cable. If not, a light sensitive one works. You can get it off ebay or from Camerabase in Edinburgh.
  3. Go to Paperchase and get some archetectural drafting paper. This will diffuse your harsh, cheap and nasty back lighting.
  4. Now the tough bit. You’ll need a glass top table, a sheet of glass. I went to Pound stretchers and got a poster size print for a tenner and used the glass from that. It’s pretty flimsy so you have to be careful but it works (until it breaks).
  5. Alternatively, you can get a sheet of opaque white perspex. The kind of thing that covers flourescent lighting sometimes. The opaque bit is important because you want to diffuse the light.
  6. The only other things I would suggest are something to diffuse your front light, a bit of trace paper would do it, and some pieces of silver card (weel get to that in a minute.

Now, I’m goona go off and draw a lighting diagram. I’ll be back in a minute so sit tight…

lighting diagram

lighting diagram

So, the idea is if you lay the bottle down and take the pick from whatever angle you like. Because the background is bleached out it can look like its standing up or whatever. Just watch out for the liquid. That will give it away, but most folk won’t notice that.

The silver reflector will make sure there is a nice colour of the whiskey. It will block your really bright flash at the back and reflect the light from the front. Try putting larger bits on either side of the bottle (out of shot) to give it more punch.

Set you camera to manual if its got it. It’s digital right? so you cam experiment until you get it correct. Once you’ve got it, WRITE DOWN all the settings you used, remember the distance you shot from and TAKE A PHOTO OF YOUR SET UP. This way your future stock shoots will be consistent.

This is VERY basic and I would probably do something more complicate myself but it will work with a bit of trial and error. If you get addicted go and check out the blog. The guy and his disciples ROCK!

Right. Good luck. Feel free to facesmsmaillettertwitterblog me if you have any questions. If your really still stuck after the twentieth of April when I’m back I’d be happy to help.

Cheers and happy clicking,