Nemuro Wine – 2009
A couple years back, I wrote about photographing the Nemuro wine bottle; which turned out to be a lot of fun because I was able to do it with only 2 lights. I received the 2009 vintage a few days ago. My first reaction after seeing the bottle was: “*%^$*!, black label on black bottle…”
Problem – dark objects are hard to lit; basically you don’t light it, you let it reflect what’s around it. I can solve the problem for the bottle itself by by placing flat glowing surfaces next to it (such as a reflector card). But black label it tricky to me: if I were to throw light on it, there will be too much specular reflection. The label will turn grey from the reflections (which is less interesting, at least to me); and it will be hard to read the label’s texts. Argh!!!
Anyway, first I got to reproduce the same setup as I did last time. Here is how it came out.
Not bad, but as I predicted; the label just doesn’t stand out. And look at all the reflections from the walls behind and around me! Argh!!! I can’t paint the wall black?! I can’t get rid of the walls!!! Or can I?
It turned out I can. I just have to make sure the light from behind the black board doesn’t spread out too wide (add a reflector); and block the reflections from above the bottle (dark foam board held by light stand with boom arm).
Much better. But where is the label? Actually, this is great. Darkness I can fix; but too much light or reflection is hard for me to remove. OK, let me throw some light on it.
Gosh… exactly as I thought. The dark foil turned grey; and lots of reflections on the label. Let me try narrowing down the light pattern with a grid. The light is now coming slightly from the right, and slightly angled down.
Much better, the reflections are mostly gone; but the light spot will have to be adjusted. Next throw in the background light with Rosco’s lavender filter. Now I got get the final image at the top of the post.
I love how the “根室” characters virtually glows out of the dark label.
Well… am I done? Should I just stop at the exact same image as before? Why? Let’s try difference composition. How about a glass?
Cool, much better product shot. Let me throw in the 2008 older vintage for a family reunion.
Now this was actually a lot harder than it seems. First, there was the black label to deal with; so I have to use a gridded light. Then, the 2008 label was a light color label; if I don’t have any light on, then it will be faded. If I put too much light on it, it will be too bright, which takes away the focus from 2009. So I have to use a even tighter grid (yes, another light), and feather the light across the label. I feathered it down so the light does not splash over the black label; this gives it a “down light” effect.
Next, group picture!!!
Notice how the 2008 is completely lit with the side reflector boards only. Actually, I like it better this way because it shows the curvature of the bottle on the label with the shadow down the middle.
Done? Well… there is one more thing I wanted to try. See, I am a sucker for bokeh (暈け). Not only I want to focus the light on only one bottle, I also want the other bottles to be out of focus. This is actually a lot harder to do when it comes to flash photography. I could open up the aperture, but the ambient light will start to affect the shot because the shutter speed is limited to 1/250 max. One way to solve this is to add a ND filter. This will cut down the light (and exposure) so I can open up the aperture without changing shutter speed. Out comes my 3-stop ND filter.
Everything should work, right? Well, not quite! The ND filter cut down so much ambient light, that the camera can’t auto-focus any more. So, un-screw the filter, focus, disable auto-focus, then put the ND filter back on. Voila!
Love it! Now there is no doubt who is the star of the show.
Here is my favorite. A tighter composition.
So much fun, so little time. By the time I was done, it was almost 3AM. Foolish, but worth it.