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Old 02-28-2012, 06:14 PM   #1
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Default How to take better pictures of your beer

I posted this on my blog, but I felt it was definitely worth re-posting here as well: http://bertusbrewery.blogspot.com/20...your-beer.html

These are some good tips to help people take better photos of their beer. If anyone else has any tips they'd like to add to this thread, feel free

Kill the Flash

Please, for the love of good looking photos, turn off the flash. Flashes on most consumer cameras are nearly useless. Unless you absolutely can't see anything in the photo without the flash, you're better off without; it's that simple. Photos of people and things almost always look better without the flash, and beer definitely falls in that category. Flash light reflects off the glass, and washes out the photo. Improve the ambient lighting if you need to, or find another location to shoot before you turn the flash on.

Depth of Field
One theme you'll notice in my photos is that I like to shoot with a shallow depth of field, meaning very little in the photo is in focus, other than the subject. I do this because things and people generally look better when they are isolated from the background.

So how do you shoot with a shallow depth of field? If your camera allows you to set the aperture, great! Choosing a wide aperture(lower number) will give you a shallower depth of field, and it also lets in more light, which is usually a bonus when shooting indoors. If your camera doesn't allow you to control the aperture, choose the portrait mode, and the camera should do that automatically.

Focus
Now that we're shooting with a shallower depth of field, we need to talk about focus. When you shoot with a wide aperture, less is in focus, so you need to make damn sure that your subject is in focus. Photographing beer can be tricky in this sense because images refract through the beer, and your camera's autofocus may struggle to focus on what you intended. It's always a balancing act between focusing on the glass, or focusing on the image refracted in the glass.

Lighting
I find that beer looks best when there is even light through the beer to empathize the color, but not too much light so that the rest of the photo is under exposed. Also, direct sunlight tends to wash out the photo. Basically, don't shine a flashlight through the beer or hold the beer up to a light, and don't try to take photos of beer in direct sunlight. You can get great photos indoors, but you need to turn on all your lights, and definitely don't use the flash.

Composition
If you can keep your beer out of the dead-center of the photo, it's usually for the best. Photos almost always tend to be more interesting when the subject isn't dead center. One of the basic composition concepts in photography is called the rule of thirds. Imagine if your photo had two vertical lines dividing it into three equal sections. The rule of thirds is that you should compose your photo with the subject along one of those lines rather than in the center.

Camera
I do have a DSLR, and I love it. It takes some fantastic photos. With that said, you don't need an expensive camera to take great photos, nor does an expensive camera lead to great photos. I've shot some great photos with my iPhone, which I can promise you is no where near as good as a typical point-and-shoot camera. Sure they aren't as sharp and crisp as a DSLR shot, but they still capture the eye.

So get creative, and spend a little time taking better photos of your beer. The awesome thing about digital photography is it doesn't hurt to practice as much as you want. Get out there, take some pictures, evaluate which photos you liked, and what you liked about them. Then wash, rinse, and repeat!

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Old 02-28-2012, 06:17 PM   #2
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Nice Scottland, great tips on a subject that people rarely talk about.

I would love to post a link to your article on my blog if you don't mind.

-TK

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Old 02-28-2012, 06:18 PM   #3
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Sure, go for it.

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Old 02-28-2012, 11:20 PM   #4
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does the wider aperture mean a longer exposure when you actually depress the button? how do you hold it still long enough? when i encounter that type of scenario, it always looks blurry because i can't hold still enough.

nice post.

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Old 02-28-2012, 11:31 PM   #5
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As far as I know with the wider aperture it lets more light in so you can actually use a faster shutter speed. My test picture seemed to come out decently.

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Old 02-28-2012, 11:36 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xanthine View Post
As far as I know with the wider aperture it lets more light in so you can actually use a faster shutter speed. My test picture seemed to come out decently.
Yup. Wide aperature = more light which means faster shutter and ability to make a proper exposure in less light. Also, while the photo the OP shows as an example is a very nice photo, I think background is important. IMO a white or at least simple background shows the color and clarity the best. Otherwise it can look like a bunch of stuff is floating in your beer Nice post though, good points.
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Old 02-28-2012, 11:48 PM   #7
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Here's one. Couldn't agree more with the OP when he says to shut your cheesy, built in flash off, lol! Please forgive the rather large thumb smear on the bottom, lol!

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Old 02-29-2012, 12:01 AM   #8
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Scott, just out of curiosity, what's in your camera bag (body/lenses)? I always find the answer to that question interesting.

I've been using photos with our first DSLR (Nikon D3100 with the 18-55 kit lens) as a central focus of the blog I launched last month. The kit lens is a challenge since almost everything I shoot is indoors (bars are almost a complete no-go), but we'll have some money to spend this summer on some nicer lenses.

Been following your blog for a couple months, and I always enjoy the photography. Keep up the good work

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Old 02-29-2012, 12:09 AM   #9
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Do you mess with HDR imaging on your pictures at all? I started messing with that recently as well as auto bracketing the 3 shots at different exposures then messing with them on the computer. It has really killed a bunch of time....

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Old 02-29-2012, 12:37 AM   #10
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Thanks for the replies!

Quote:
Originally Posted by android View Post
does the wider aperture mean a longer exposure when you actually depress the button? how do you hold it still long enough? when i encounter that type of scenario, it always looks blurry because i can't hold still enough.
That's shutter speed. Aperture is how big the opening is in the lens when the photo is taken. This photo helps visual it (thanks engadget). Your camera changes the setting without you knowing most of the time. The smaller that hole is, the less light it lets in, but more is in focus. The bigger the hole, the more light it let's in (makes sense, right?), and less in in focus.

So a wide aperture (small number) is a win-win for indoor photos of people and things. Shallow depth of field, with more light. This lets your camera shoot with a faster shutter, so it doesn't look blurry if your hand moves.

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnsma22 View Post
Here's one... Please forgive the rather large thumb smear on the bottom, lol!
Very nice!

Quote:
Originally Posted by hoppedupbrewer View Post
Scott, just out of curiosity, what's in your camera bag (body/lenses)? I always find the answer to that question interesting.

I've been using photos with our first DSLR (Nikon D3100 with the 18-55 kit lens) as a central focus of the blog I launched last month. The kit lens is a challenge since almost everything I shoot is indoors (bars are almost a complete no-go), but we'll have some money to spend this summer on some nicer lenses.

Been following your blog for a couple months, and I always enjoy the photography. Keep up the good work
First off, thank you! Secondly, we have the same camera. I bought a D3100 last spring. The kit lens is surprisingly a fantastic lens; I'd recommend against selling it. It's very sharp across the whole range. With that said, I shoot about 95% of my photos with a Nikon 35mm 1.8g. The fixed focal length makes me get up off my feet and walk around to compose the photo because I can't zoom, which is good. Although, the big benefit is that it stops up to f/1.8, which is a god send for shooting shots in low light. My kitchen is actually rather dim, and that lens makes photos look great. They run about $200, and they're worth every penny.

I also have an 18-105mm VR that I picked up from someone that bought a D7000 kit, and didn't need the lens. Great lens. It has a bit more reach than the 18-55, which is nice. I'd dare say that the 18-55 is actually a smidge sharper though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by onthekeg View Post
Do you mess with HDR imaging on your pictures at all? I started messing with that recently as well as auto bracketing the 3 shots at different exposures then messing with them on the computer. It has really killed a bunch of time....
I have started playing with HDR a little. It's pretty fun, and ya, time flies by when I'm playing with photomatix. I would shoot much more HDR if my damn camera had auto bracketing (GD Nikon.) That's my only compliant about the little 3100. Awesome camera in every way, it goes well beyond an entry-level, but it doesn't have auto bracket....bummer
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