These are my first images for assignment 4 – “light” and aim to use light to highlight the colour of the subject (a Leffe bottle, which will feature in all the shots for this assignment).

Colour – Red

ISO100, 1/200s, f/22.  Click to see large on Flickr

Shot on manual, hand-held (because my tripod was other-wise occupied as the section below on ‘Taking the Shot’ will explain).  I’ve boosted the ‘exposure’ in Lightroom to +0.5 of a stop and increased the sharpness.

The red here compliments the brown bottle and brings out a red tone to it.

Colour: Yellow

ISO100, 1/200s, f/22.  Click to see large on Flickr.

In this shot the yellow background reinforces the yellow and gold in the label of the bottle.

The original idea came from a post on a DIY under lighting box – which I had researched after my tutor’s feedback on the olive oil bottle shot in assignment two, where it was suggested I light the bottle from below.  I followed the advice to use a box and a picture frame.  Here’s the original post on it.

Taking the Shot

I introduced lights bit-by-bit, initially starting with my flash gun underneath the glass with a colour filter on it – a hole in the back of the box letting light out to light the wall behind.  The lights were triggered by two wireless remotes (pocket wizards and a calumet setup I got free with my bowen studio lights) and a wired hotshoe.

This is how the first shot looked:

Dusty Glass

I didn’t get beyond the first test shot here before realising I needed to sort the glass.  It didn’t appear dusty at-a-glance, but the flash soon proved otherwise.

Glass cleaned

After applying some glass cleaner it’s much better (though still shows some dust).   I wasn’t happy with the colour – or the amount of light coming through the beer in the bottle.

Front light and more-direct light

I put in a front light, using an umbrella as a diffuser, and pointed the flash more directly upward.  I opened up the back of the box more too.  Not happy with the umbrella reception – it’s fairly rough and obvious.

Reflection improved

I adjusted the position of the umbrella and, after feedback on a previous version, tried with a piece of card under the glass (a hole cut in it below the bottle) to try and make the glass division with the background more deliberate.  The final shot doesn’t suffer from the same problem that prompted the card – (the previous picture to this shows a kind of highlight/reflection on the edge of the glass which is messy).

Two lights

I thought I’d try two lights now, both through umbrellas.  Thinking about what I’ve read in Light: Science and Magic, I figured the skeleton of the umbrella should be essentially treated like a ‘gobo’ – so moving it closer to the light-source should minimise it’s impact.  I think it improved it, but not enough.  I’m also not happy with the strength of the light in the background – the colour isn’t very strong.

With parchment paper

So I placed one of my studio lights in the box in place of my flash gun, and put the flash gun behind the box pointing at the wall.  I removed the card – mainly because I was concerned the tungsten modelling light and the card might not play nice and I wasn’t keen on flames providing the yellow or red for this shot!  I replaced the umbrella with some parchment paper I had bought for an exercise.  The role was put on the end of my camera tripod and positioned in front of the light.  It’s created a much smoother reflection, which I was happy with.  The only remaining issue is the strength of the colour toward the top of the bottle.

The same issue was apparent on the red shot:

In the final shot I moved the flash closer to the wall and pointed it up at a steeper angle.   These pictures illustrate the final setup:

Front light and parchment paper on tripod

The white card just to the left of the bottle was put over a plug socket which – at some angles – reflected in the bottle.  It was quite subtle, but annoying none-the-less.  The tape is just visible in the final shot.  I’ll let the viewer work out where.  I could have shot from a different angle to avoid it by putting the label in the way – but I prefer the shot when it’s not at an angle.

Box light and rear flash