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Silhouette of a bottle with a glass (lo-key)

August 10, 2011

I was looking for an originale picture to use for a poster and an invitation card for a series of open days about wine marketing.
I wanted my picture to drift from the usual stock images, I wanted something different from all those selective focus, something “really graphic”, simple but immediately recognizable. I wanted the beholder suddendl say “Ok, it’s wine we are talking of here”.
So, I decided that picture I needed had to have a great impact and had to be really clean.

So I shot it miself! …and that’s pretty much when the trouble began

First I chose the mood: lo-key, so I mounted a black backdrop to shoot against.
I carefully chose the shape of the bottle – it had to be elegant, so that’s why I chose a Burgundy bottle, it seemed to have a more pleasant contour).  I placed my bottle a few inches from the backdrop and in front of the bottle, slightly on the right, I placed a glass, in which I poured some red wine (taken from another bottle, of course).

Now the issue was how draw the contour lines of the bottle and of the glass without lightin the wine contained in the bottled.
I was looking for a dramatic mono-chromatic image, almost black and white, with very defined contour lines that helped to recognize the subject. Not an easy task.

I began to place to flashguns at the sides, perpendicular to the camera axsis and with snoots mounted on… the outcome was far from what I had on my mind: I had the backdrop in the black, but no sign of a silhouette.

Chill! I recalled my experience: “to obtain a silhouette the subject must be backlit” – simple rule, so I had to stick to it.

Got rid of the backdrop and replaced it with a bank, but now I had to find a solution to mask the light…
I started to mess around in panic, adding a light here, taking one away… still no way out!
Until when, casually, I placed a black styrofoam panel against the bank and, since the panel was narrower thant the bank, the light spilled sideways, creating two simmetrical beams – a sort of a strip light.
The panel was blocking the light in the center and the two beams draw the contour lines of the bottle and of the glass.
That was my set. Now I only had to find the right exposure. I metered it: f5.6 @1″.
The trick was finding the correct distance among subject/light/camera – few inches back with the light and the outcome was completely different, the light wasn’t picking up the shape and was outspilling on the set.

The masked bank created two triangular beams at both sides of the subject, the more I moved bottle and glass from the light and the less the lines were defined, while the red of the wine in the glass started to glow.
Taste was the measure.

I was looking for a position that allow me to draw the shape and to catch a touch of red within the glass, at the same time – just to feel  the wine.

For the techies: I decided to underexpose of 1/3 of stop – to clip on shadows.

So I shot!

Opening the file in Camera Raw I increased the blacks and busted a little of contrast and saturation.
With Photoshop I made the red of the wine in the glass a little shinier
Et voilà!

With and without glass

So… a bank as a backdrop, masked with a black panel for half of its width – leaving two striped unblocked at the side.
This is my final light scheme – once you manage the right distance it’s a piece of cake.

 

 

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