Shooting water in product and advertisement photography


TPF Noob!
Sep 15, 2010
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Atlanta, GA
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Want to share here one of our tutorials, hope it will be useful for the community:

This is a second episode (the first one is here) 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, positioning camera strictly horizontal. Because we have used carbonated water, the tank must be 100% clean inside: every little piece of dirt on the glass will attract bubbles build-up.
The camera was perpendicular to the subject, meaning we did not need very deep DOF, aperture was set to F10.

It was enough to have full object in a focus while blurring tank walls enough to hide occasional bubbles on it. For the same reason was used 180mm Macro lens: longer focus helped us separate the object from a tank walls.


Speaking ob CO2 bubbles, quite important how much soda we’ll use: have it too much, and bubbles will grow too fast and become too big, leaving you no time for a shooting, the object will loose bubbles too fast.

The ideal (for our needs) mix was 70% distilled water and 30% of soda water (no sugar, please:). With such ratio we were getting 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 to popping-up.
Now, the lighting setup:


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

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 a background a lot, which made it gray. Therefore 7” reflector with 10° grid was used.
Background spot (1) was a most powerful light: deep blue gel with 10° spot required a lot of power.


The complete article with behind the scene video is on the blog:
Water in product and advertisement photography: episode two released! Atlanta Photographer blog

Alex Koloskov.
This is really cool. I like how you showed so much of your set up.
Awesome set up. I've tried this before, but always had problems with bubbles on glass. Good stuff to know, thanks.
Great shots
wow...really nice, an eyeopener for me : )
Awesome shots and thanks for showing the set-up! That was my favorite part of the post.

But I was wondering something. You have a string holding what seems to be a red chili pepper in the one picture. How did you get the photo without it? Or did you just edit it?
Thanks for sharing!

Nice write-up!

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