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Studio Photography Insights hangout on Google plus #5

Sorry guys, I was busy for all the week and have not finished any photo-project I was working on, finished enough to be posted here with the results.
The good thing is that we got an interesting hangout:-)  Thank you everyone who joined us.

This is our fifth”Studio Photography Insights” Google plus hangout (previous ones are¬†here).

Studio Photography Insights hangout
Studio Photography Insights hangout #5


What is new? We got weekly assignments!

From now, we’ll be doing weekly¬†assignments: Everyone can work on it and submit results in a comment area of ¬†corresponded blog post (multiple images can be loaded into one comment). Next hangout we’ll be reviewing each shot and will talk about what can be improved. ¬†It will be a good idea to supply some information of what you were trying to¬†achieve, as well as a¬†lighting¬†setup: this way it will be easier to troubleshoot problems and give you a better suggestions on how to improve it… if we’ll feel it can be improved:-)

After review/critique session I or Dave are going to shoot our own assignment live, right from a studio during the hangout. How is this? For me, it sounds awesome! This way we can not only talk, but learn, learn by doing stuff. Honestly, I believe that you can learn craft only by doing it.

So, this week assignment is a bottle of red wine. I’d like to get product-type shot, but let’s try to¬†approach¬†it creatively, OK? However, the¬†decision¬†on how to do it it 100% up to a¬†photographer: we do not wan to put any boundaries.
Go and work on the shot, there is plenty of  time till next Wednesday. Take a chance to improve your skills:-)

Here are some references that were mentioned during this hangout:

  • Dave mentioned 1X.com, and it looks like what they offer can be interesting for both sides of the world: photographers and art buyers. ¬†First can sell prints and add the exposure to their work, second can get prints from amazing photographers.
  • Non¬†expensive¬†Speedlite light modifiers:¬†Lightboxes from David Honl. ¬†Great stuff for strobists.
  • I’ve mentioned my B&Hphotovideo.com wishlist with that dual arm clamps I was showing. here it is: ¬†Studio Support systems. The one I was talking about is called¬†Matthews – Minigrip Mounting Kit
BTW, if you are looking for some guidance in equipment, these two articles may help: Equipment for liquid (but not limited to) photography and  Studio equipment buying guide for beginners. Also I have several e-books and videos on our e-store:

If you’d like to join hangout¬†you need to be in my special “Studio hangout” circle,¬†which¬†I am filling with fellow¬†photographers¬†and amateurs who interested in studio photography.
I assume you are one of us if you read my blog, so most likely you’ll be qualified and added immediately. To get in, you need to find me on G+ (it is¬†easy) and ask to be added to “Studio hangout” circle. Oh, one more:¬†adding¬†to a circle is like a¬†getting¬†into a relationship, and I expect that you have at least a good info about yourself on your Google plus “about” page:-)


39 responses on "Studio Photography Insights hangout on Google plus #5"

  1. That’s my vision of a wine bottle.
    I just use 2 Speedlites, one softbox, and mirrors
    I don’t a setup image.


    • Fellpe,
      It loog very good, but to make it perfect post-production is required: make softbox reflection on the left to be uniform (or gradient), without gray spots. Fix that small reflection on the engravings and tree dots on the bottom. I know this is what glass has, but nobody wants to see a real thing is we talk about product shot. it should be perfect, not real:-)
      Great job anyway. thank you!

  2. I’m sorry that this is so late, and even more sorry that it reflects the true novice that I am. But I am truly inspired by the beautiful photographs that have been submitted so far, and I am so grateful to be able to learn from such accomplished photographers.


    • @Paul Helfinstein, Hello Paul – I like the label put found the wine bottle to be almost lost in the background with lots of weird stuff going on at the base. I looked at your Google+ profile and found many attempts. I used you final image and number (42) and combined them then cleaned them up a bit. Number 42 had better bottle definition but a blown highlight right at the label. So I re-sculpted the edge and top with number 42 and used the label from the final. Here is what I got …

      I used a blur to clean up the mottling just above the label and used the Photoshop clone tool to darkened the top label highlight. I decided not tackle the bottom as I could not find a clean surface in your photos.

      Hope these pointer help. Good first try.

      • @ron gibbs,


        Thank you so much! It looks much, much better. I realized that the bottle was almost invisible, but I didn’t know what to do about it especially because all I have is one Canon 430 strobe. I have learned a lot just from this first assignment. For one thing I need a better surface than my glass coffee table with white sheets of paper on it :-).

        I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to work on improving my project, and sharing your expertise with me.

        Gratefully yours, -paul

        • @ron gibbs,

          One more thing. I thought that I might have earned some slight accommodation since my wine is probably older than most of the people who participated in the assignment ;-).


        • @Paul Helfinstein,

          I had already graduated from graduate school and been employed for 3 years when that bottle was created. Back in those days though I might be looking for Strawberry wine or Sangria! This time round it had to cost less than $10 (That was my second criteria) – my first criteria … I asked the nice lady (who probably wasn’t as old as your bottle) for nice red wine with a photogenic label. That seemed to confuse her a good deal.

  3. Here is my submission . One SB-600 speedlight only with different light modifiers. Multiple shot combined in photoshop (11-15 shots used).


  4. Yes, I promiss: This is a bottle of red wine. :-)
    Unfortunatelly, I don’t have a picture of a set up, but I try to describe:
    Black paper as background.
    The bottle was inside a kind of black box which was open in front and in the back.
    The little light came from the back sides which where small narrow whihte paper strips on which I fired my flashes.
    OK, maybe this description was too confusing.

    I’ll make a similiar session next time, so I’ll post some make-of pics on google+.

    BTW: Alex & Dave great idea of such hangout where everybody has chance to contribute. A pitty I can’t participate due to the time difference to Europe. I’m excited to see the video afterwards.

    Take care and have fun.

    • Slawo,
      Thank you for the submission!
      As for the Europe: I do not like such situation either, and I hope we can work something out with Dave. I’ll try to get online on Thursdays 12AM Eastern time, so at least we can discuss stuff from Wednesday hangout with my European friends.

  5. [img]http://www.phillydarts.com/images/canon/BottleofRedWine.jpg[/img]
    Ok… I always wanted to learn studio photography so I‚Äôm really happy to see Alex and Dave create assignments. First I want to say I have a new respect for the talent that studio photographers have.

    So I went to the wine store and had no idea which bottle I was going to buy. I just looked for a ‚Äúcool‚ÄĚ bottle to photograph. I really liked the wires wrapping the bottle.

    Ok, the setup. I have a Canon t3i and one 430EX II flash. I used white poster boards for reflectors, a black bed sheet for the back drop and black poster board for the surface for the bottle.

    I put the reflectors to the left and right of the bottle and to the front and back. I also hung a reflector on the tripod to reflect back to the front of the bottle. I tried every angle I could think of to see what created the minimum of reflections on the bottle. I made a quick diffuser from a styrofoam bowl and a paper towel on the front to diffuse the light some more. Still not happy with the flash reflections on the bottle.

    I ended up holding the flash above the bottle with another poster board to shield the flash from the background and create a shadow line from the front of the bottle to the background. This seemed to highlight the wires on the bottle and the bottle label. Remember I only had one flash.

    This photo it as-is other the some slight adjustments to Blacks and Light Fill in Lightroom. Let the critiques begin!!

  6. Finally managed to get something together. A bit rushed so not had much post processing.[img]http://www.photigy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Ken-Hoyle-2.jpg[/img][img]http://www.photigy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Ken-Hoyle-1.jpg[/img]

    • Since I wont be able to attend the hangout I thought I would say what I dont like about my image.
      i. The main problem I see is that I have lost the rim of the glass(es). Whether this can be pulled back in post-processing I dont know.
      ii. I am not enamored of the stripe right down the middle of the bottle, it needs to be more diffused.

      Both these ‘problems’ indicate I need a more dispersed light source than the direct use of the flashgun

  7. My attempt at doing this, I just did a bottle of white last week before this was started, so I tried doing something different and went with a mock table setup. Not quite sure how I feel about it but I’m still trying to get back into the studio work and getting used to trying everything out.


  8. Here is a shot of red wine bottle, that I in fact took last year. But I do believe it to be a interesting shot,as well as being slightly complicated. But as it was taken a while back I have no set-up shots of the process.

    For this shot I used 3 studio lights, Lastolite Lumen8`s, 2 with softboxes on, and 1 light with a snoot. Plus, a purpose-built surround black painted (on the inside) wooden box, apart from the front and rear, these were open of course.
    I placed the box on a table, with a softbox behind and the camera in front. This gave me the effect of a small tunnel, and shooting into the light. I then placed a piece of card (as a gobo) in front of the softbox, large enough for the height of the box, but not as wide as the softbox. Therefore creating 2 strip lights on the side. Then standing the bottle of wine inside the blackened box, this then gave me the effect of strips of white light on the side of the bottle. With moving the bottle forward and backwards this effects the thickness of the white strips of light shining through the bottle. Then I had the light with the snoot on pointing up from below the table, just in front of the camera, onto the label of the wine.
    Now I then had a problem, the area where the neck of the bottle and the rest of it meet, just above the label, the part that looks a little bit like a “C” shape on the side. There was no white strip of light! I could have fixed this in Photoshop, but I decided I would like to get as much right in camera as I could.
    Therefore, I moved the top of the box forward towards the camera and away from the softbox. In this gap overhead, I placed a strip softbox. After some playing around, I was able to get the effect I wanted, that of 2 strips of light running down the sides of the red wine bottle, from top to bottom.


  9. Well, here is my rendition. I thought I’d give light painting a go as I’d never done it before.

    Well, after 2.5 hours I think I finally have a shot worth submitting to the blog for our Google+ Hangout tomorrow night.

    This shot was done in complete darkness and lit only with a maglite (with a paper snoot) and I used my iphone LED to light the background. 30 second exposure. About 20 minutes in Photoshop to clean it up. Took about 20 shots until I got something worth editing.


  10. Hey all here’s mine for the week. I’m so jammed up with work that I had to go home at lunch time to shoot this. Haven’t taken any setup shots but I hope I can find time in the next couple days… 4 Einsteins… On strip box over head, another in front of the setup positioned horizontally, another at about 3 oclock with a 40 degree grid pointing at the smoke and one more below the background with a 40 Degree grid for the background. The smoke is nothing more than an incense stick taped behind the bottle and with a little hand waving got it to go in the direction I wanted. I didn’t like how the subject was filling the frame so I stretched it a bit to take up some space. :D

  11. Ok, this is our version of the assignment.


    I do not want to post setup now, I’ll do all the explanation during next hangout. it is quite complex at some point;-)

    • @Alex Koloskov, great stuff, I am a huge fan of yours! Could you please tell me what camera did you use for this shot?? I know it is large format but I am not sure what it is…you see I am using canon 50D my self and I love doing commercial/advertising type of shots and I just wanted to get some better camera for that sort of job, but I am not sure where to start ;/ I cant afford digital hasselblad but I do want to have this whole control over focus etc. Please help me out and perhaps visit my website and let me know what you think about my work :) Thank you.


      I am 18 years old and I am based in UK.

  12. I wanted to try something different, so I put my beauty dish underneath which lit the front of the label and the background. I used the softbox behind to put the line around the bottle. I thought since it was red wine, I would make the line red. The bottle was very flat looking, so I added a second softbox to the right to put a highlight on the bottle to give it some shape.

    Overall, I was pretty happy with the result for this $2.50 bottle of wine. :)

  13. Hi guys this is my vision of a wine bottle shot. I don’t have an image of my setup but there where 2 continues lights to the sides, 3 white cards and tent to soften the light. After all I took it to the Photoshop and make it happen.

    Alex, I would not be able to be at the hangout to hear your hard critique on my stuff as it will be 2AM, but will watch it later ready to hear how I can improve it :]. Have a good one m8

  14. I didn’t really have an idea.I just had the bottle,the grapes and a tree with some red berries on it.
    So I put stuff in front of the camera until it looked reasonably OK and then I s.googltarted clicking and moving the lights around until I had to go inside because the no see ums were attacking my ankles.https://plus.google.com/photos/117933650215545798782/albums/5641568157663588817/5710662225147528802?hl=en

  15. Hello Alex – I might do one other if time permits, but for now here is my result.
    Included is a final image, the setup, the resultant 3 “first images” and how they were composited in photo
    shop. I needed to get the lights further from my subject to get the effect I wanted, and my “studio” is small and designed for jewelry, thus I gave up on a single shot and decided to handle an easier way using 1 regular lighting shot and two done with minimal light painting. The layer them in Photoshop. Total time was about 2.5 – 3 hours.





  16. Great idea and execution of it! Are there only two lights (key and background)? I can’t tell for certain in the set up shot.

    • @Michael Tuuk,
      I have three lights. The two under the table blend together in the shadows.

      Dunno how much discussion Alex wants here before Wednesday… (does it help /hurt to give some info ahead of time — maybe it will save some time from explaining everything online)?
      Alex, feel free to yell at me if we should wait to discuss. (can replies be deleted/edited?) :-) :-)

      Anyway, the key light front& above (obviously). A strobe with black cine-foil cone to create the shaped background light.
      I also have a small speed light type flash at 1/32 power with blue gel pointing up from below. The glass ice cubes had a blue glow to begin with but the gel pumped that up and better emphasized the wineglass base as well as the cork faces.
      I was trying to light things the way I wanted without post processing. Didn’t know that was allowed for this one. :-)
      If I get some time, I may try to post process the flaws out where the lighting didn’t agree with me.
      Hopefully I’ll get some tips on whether what I wanted is possible without post processing.

  17. Dunno what the rest of my week will look like so I had to get this done today… It is pretty much what I envisioned in my head, but I am beginning to think it got a bit too cluttered. I guess I’ll hear about that next week. :-) Most of the lighting came out as I wanted… I’ll have some questions on how to improve that.
    Its a light red wine, but quite a bit darker than a rose’ and I wanted some of the color to come through.
    It is best served a slightly chilled on a hot summer day… thus the ice cubes. :-)



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