Water in product and advertisement photography

This is a second episode from the “Water in product and advertisement photography” series. This time we used the same tank and mix of distilled and sparkling water.

The idea was simple: pouring objects into a water and shooting through the water tank and positioning the camera strictly horizontal. Because we have used carbonated water, the tank must be 100% clean inside: every small piece of dirt on the glass will attract bubbles.

The camera was perpendicular to the subject, meaning we did not need a very deep DOF, the aperture was set to F10. It was enough to have the full object in a focus while out-of focus a tank walls was enough to hide any occasional bubbles on it. For the same reason we used a 180mm Macro lens: longer focus helped us separate the object from a tank walls.

Water in advertisement photography: the pepper and CO2 water.

fruit in water photography tutorila atlanta

water photography tutorial episode-2

Speaking ob CO2 bubbles, it was quite important how much soda we’ll use: add it too much, and the bubbles will grow too fast and become too big, leaving photographer no time to get the shot, as the object will loose the bubbles too quickly.

The ideal (for our needs) mix was 70% distilled water and 30% of soda water (no sugar, please:-).  With such ratio we were getting a very nice slow bubble buildup on the object. It starts from a mist-like tiny bubbles covering all the object, growing for about 5 minutes before they will start popping-up.

Now, the lighting setup:

Lighting setup of product water photography:

water product advertisement photography tutorial lighting-setup

Real life lighting setup

Lighting Setup diagram (for those who do not see well in the dark:-)

AKELstudio water product photography lighting setup diagram

AKELstudio water product photography lighting setup diagram

Bubbles looks the best when highlighted from the behind, therefore I’ve used two hairlights from both sides.

First (4) was placed form top-behind, second (3)  was on a side: no even or symmetrical  lighting if we want product to have a volume.
The ratio between these two lights, will be different as well: one light should be at least 2 stops brighter than another: this way we ensure the object won’t look flat.

The top light (2) is to highlight the front of the object. The angle should be very sharp, meaning no light spill on the background behind the tank: we need to keep it dark.
At  first I was trying to use a Beauty Dish, but found it too big, light was spilling on the background a lot, which made it gray.  Therefore 7” reflector with 10° grid was used.

Background spot (1) was our most powerful light: deep blue gel with 10° spot required a lot of power.

water photography tutorial example

The pepper in the water

water photography tutorial example shoot

water photography tutorial example shoot: episode 2

Now, the post-production of the last photo (the bottle): we had two separate shots combined together.

The first one poured into a water, with bubbles all around, and a second one on the same position but without a tank.

later it saved us quite a bit of time; instead of cleaning the label form a bubbles manually, we just applied (via masks) a clean one. Few bubbles were left on a place which made the image look more naturalistic.

More about post-production (before and after) of this particular image you can learn from the article posted on our post-production blog.

Equipment and shooting spec:

Camera Gear:

Lighting, light modifiers and accessories:

All shots were done with: shutter speed 1/250 sec, F10, ISO 100, Custom WB 6100K


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About The Author: Alex Koloskov

The lighting magician, owner of AKELstudio, Inc.

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5 comments to Water in product and advertisement photography

  • Michael Burke

    Are these artificial veggies?

  • Victor Wolansky

    Fantastic! How do you find time to do all this? I guess you still have to do photoshoots to pay bills right? :-)

    • admin

      yes, we do a commercial photoshots to pay bills.. Plus I have a daily job, completely non-photography related job. But you know.. as Seth Godin said, “You do not need more time, you need to decide”. I decided to exclude many things which use to take my time in past (like TV/movies, endless internet surfing, chatting, hangouts etc) and free time came right here, ready for consumption… he-he..

      • Well. I’m glad you do, since I found all your videos and tips and tutorials an immense source of knowledge, not easy to get anywhere else, specially for someone like me that do this for fun. I take it seriously, but is fun for now, may be some day when I retire of what I’m doing today I’ll try to make some money with photography….

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