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Old 01-08-2009, 03:57 AM   #1
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Default Photographing Beer?

I know we're bound to have some photography buffs around here. I like taking pictures of my beer, but I'd like it more if they looked better. I've tried a few things like different light but I really don't know what I'm doing. I'm not working with a fancy camera here, just a pocket fujifilm 4.1 megpixel. Could anyone give a simple explanation or tutorial for taking a good picture of a pint that showcases the clarity, color, foam, etc?

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Old 01-08-2009, 05:03 AM   #2
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I can offer some basic tips without getting too complicated (that would really be getting into SLR territory)...

1. Don't use the flash. It would create ton of glare on the glass and all you'd see is the reflection. Find the feature on your camera that actively turns it off.
1a. Use lighting available to you..whether it be sunlight or artificial, and add more if necessary...from various angles to eliminate as much shadow as you can (unless you want that effect). Your camera will probably take care of the white balance and stuff.
2. Fill most of the frame with your subject (and if you're going for an artsy look, remember the rule of thirds). Get as close as you feel you need to (within the focal range) or zoom in (without using digital zoom). Try to eliminate any background clutter. Your camera will probably try to put everything into focus, so this is an important point. You may even want to stage a scene or use a DIY mini "photo studio" with your own backdrop. If you look at a lot of beer stock photography, you'll see what I mean by filling the frame.
3. Take A LOT of pics! I can't emphasize this enough. Take them from every angle with with as many different lighting configurations as you can. You will most likely find a few you'll like. With flash memory prices as low as they are today, there's no excuse not to. And use the highest resolution you can. You may want to crop out a certain portion of the pic and you don't want to end up with a really low resolution version of the perfect result.

I hope that makes sense and helps at least a little. I know it a lot of it seems pretty elementary, but with point and shoot cameras these days, there's not much else you can control.

Exposure, aperture, and lens options will have to wait for another time I guess. Haha.

Good luck!

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Old 01-08-2009, 05:08 AM   #3
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Back lighting shows off beer. You see the clarity and color better. What you see behind the glass should be slightly out of the depth of field so it shows off the beer instead of the background. Simple cameras have limited abilities. Look at others pictures to see what they did that you like and try to mimic that type of picture. There is a lot online about photography technique.

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Old 01-08-2009, 05:22 AM   #4
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+1 on the no flash, you might like to try this... Set up a light source that shines up through the bottom of a clear pint glass, just through the bottom. Try it with a flashlight and I think you will get the idea, I would use a black background for less distraction. Good luck.

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Old 01-08-2009, 11:04 AM   #5
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+1 Back lighting shows off beer - as you can see - snow helps.

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Old 01-08-2009, 11:51 AM   #6
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i havent photographed beer, but i have done food, actually i think i had a beer in one of the shots, off to look. put your beer on a table with a well lit window across the room in the background, set your camera to portrait mode, focus on the glass, shoot. use a tripod if you have one to help out if your camera wants to run a longer shutter.

its also very easy to set up a home studio with minimal stuff. these shots where taken on a table with a white sheet as a backdrop and 3 of those cheap silver work/heat lights you can get at lowes/home depot. for a studio setup that cost less than $50 you wouldn't believe how much this shoot made me and i didnt even think it was that good!







i think the beer was a saranac ipa. the photos where taken for an Asian restaurant that a local architect was building in the Boston airport. i dont think they bought any of the beer photos, i cant remember now. maybe someone who goes through the Boston airport a lot could let me know!

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Old 01-08-2009, 02:18 PM   #7
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I like doing it outside if possible because sunlight is hard to replicate indoors. I also like have an almost infinite distance behind so that the background blurs (as long as you use an fstop around 2.8.

Indoors a lightbox would be ideal.

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Old 01-08-2009, 03:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby_M View Post
I like doing it outside if possible because sunlight is hard to replicate indoors. I also like have an almost infinite distance behind so that the background blurs (as long as you use an fstop around 2.8.

Indoors a lightbox would be ideal.

a large ap is essential to getting a shallow depth of field. depending on the lens i had when i did those shots i either used f2.8 or f4.5. that shoot i couldnt do out side do to customer requirements, otherwise natural light is the best.

its real easy to make a light box, all you need is some tissue paper, a couple lights, and a cardboard box. here is one i built a couple years ago.



resulting shots






took me about an hour to put together, it would work great for beer shots. i may have to go dig it back out and play around with it this weekend!
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Old 01-08-2009, 03:43 PM   #9
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You'll love having a digital! Even a decent pocket camera can take great shots, and having a digital camera means that you can take a LOT of pictures. You will want to do this.

Most pocket digitals today have enough manual features to overcome most obstacles, but if not, you might be limited in how you set up a shot. You can get various effects from different lighting, depending on what you are trying to accomplish. Read up on the different aspects of lighting etc. Even without some of the optional manual settings, a modern pocket digital will take great shots, even if the optics are not great.

Plus, a modern image software can help to adjust color, brightness/contrast, etc.

You will want to use a tripod, or other stabilizing device, even if your camera comes with a so-called stabilization mode. Pockets cameras have a poor stabilization process, and anyway you won't need it with a good tripod device.

Good luck! There aren't enough pictures of beer in the world!

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Old 01-08-2009, 04:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nvr2low View Post
its real easy to make a light box, all you need is some tissue paper, a couple lights, and a cardboard box. here is one i built a couple years ago.
Agreed....just find an old carboard box and cut it up....make windows on both sides, and tape tissue paper on the sides and then another long strip on the top part of the box. Really like that setup since you won't get any harsh shadows or background in your "product placement" shot. And with digital photography, you can further save money and get cheap flood lights from the hardware store. The light gets to be a pretty warm temp, so you have to adjust your white balance (most cameras will at least let you switch to a tungsten mode if you can't calibrate WB further).
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