Shooting a Cold One

July 04, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

     I'm not much of a beer drinker myself, but when I think of Independence Day, I must confess, both ribs and beer come to mind. Which also brought to mind the thought that any photographer worth her salt ought to be able to take a decent picture of a tall cold one. How hard could it be?

     It turns out, thought it's not too difficult, there is a bit more involved than I originally anticipated.

     First, of course, I had to buy some beer. And the current Budweiser cans, with their  bright red, white and blue motif, seemed just perfect. My plan was to shoot the beer in the cans, then in a glass outdoors in a natural setting, then inside in my makeshift home studio.

     To put the end of the story first - I should have bought more beer!

     Fortunately, I gained some terrific tips, thanks to a Google search, and so was able to maximize my resources.

     First, I got my props set up outdoors, put my camera in place on a tripod and adjusted light settings before I actually loaded ice into the cooler. Ice does not last long on a hot day. Condensation on a cold glass also evaporates quickly. And a head of foam on a beer dissipates more rapidly than I had ever realized.

    I loaded the beers into the cooler, arranged them artistically, and took a few test shots. They looked most unappealing. Why? I had forgotten to spray them. Without that enticing chilled appearance condensation provides, the beer was not so very inviting. As it developed, I sprayed the cans frequently, and experimented with shots ranging from extreme close-ups with zoom, to shots of the cooler in an outdoor setting.

     Now it was time for the outdoor glass shot.  I poured the beer in the center of the glass from a slight height for maximum foam. Next step was to spray the glass for that look of condensation, but here's a key tip: cover the portion of the glass that is foam, as condensation doesn't naturally form there. So this simple shot kept me busy - covering the top of the glass and the stem, spraying condensation, and taking shots before the foam dissipated.

     Here's another tip: if the foam does dissipate, pour in about a teaspoon of plain table salt and it will regenerate. But this required some patience. The foaming process gives the beer a cloudy look, and there are only a few brief seconds when the beer is relatively clear, the foam is just so, and of course, the condensation is just right.

     Indoors, the set up was a little different. I stayed with natural light to avoid the reflections a flash or speedlight might create. A piece of white cardstock placed behind the glass gave the beer a bright look against a dark background. Once again, I was working against the clock with foam and condensation and, sadly, a limited number of beers.

     Below is one of the resulting shots. You can see more in my Recently Added Gallery.

     Did I capture the essence of an inviting cold beer? Let me know . . . . and now I think I'll go open a cold one for my own purposes!

 


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