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drink photo lighting

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Top 200 Contributor
Posts 8
Stevi Deter Posted: 27 Dec 2008 12:58 PM

For those of us who like to include photos in our cocktail posts, what are people doing for lighting that works well for them?

I want to get some additional lights to improve my photos, but not sure what to choose. I was initially looking at the Lowell EGO, but according to some reviews, it looks like they may be poorly built for the price point.

Any suggestions?

Top 150 Contributor
Posts 17

Nothing beats good natural light, but unfortunately my flat is fairly dark and I take most of my photos in the evening so I usually resort to flash. I shoot Canon, and use a 580EX II flash for most of my photos. Bounced off the ceiling (the flash allows you to tilt to any angle you wish) it produces a pretty decent look - nothing like normal direct flash. I also have a second 580EX that I can no longer mount on the camera (long story, but I've learnt using expensive cameras when celebrating new year is generally a bad idea) that can still be used remotely - I sometimes use that to provide some side or back lighting, rarely though.

So don't rule out flash, as it can be a lot better than what an on-camera flash produces. A lightbox might also be worth investigating, I think you can pick some up fairly cheapily and there are tutorials around for building your own if you're so inclined.

Top 200 Contributor
Posts 8

I have been using a homemade lightbox (total cost - $2 for the poster board for the background sweep, everything else I had on hand), but unfortunately it isn't easily moved. Which means it needs to be repaired now that my cat has played in it and torn up the tissue paper.

I've been looking at the various collapsible lightbox tents out there as a possible solution. But also don't want to be stuck with that no background sweepy effect all the time.

I'll look into the possibility of a detachable flash. Thanks, Jay!

Top 500 Contributor
Posts 3

I think we talked about this a bit in the chat room, Stevi, but I'll post here it for greater permanence.

Joana got me the Smith-Victor KT500U setup for Xmas ( and for the price I think it's hard to beat. I'd much rather have this single-light setup than the 2-light at 250w each. Eventually, I'll just buy a second.

The change in my ability to shoot at a low ISO and manage shadows in my shots is wonderful. It's not the most sturdy equipment but for starter lighting I'm quite happy. here's a set of shots I took using it, no flash in low-to-medium natural lighting. As you'll likely notice, the vividness of the colors and softness of some of the shadows are much improved.

I'm still working with the reflector set that I also purchased to help manage glare and the direction from which the light source approaches the subject.

I also bought a slave flash and find it interesting, but much more difficult to predict and manage its effects on shooting. As for lightboxes, I've built this one:  (used for my ginger beer line up photos)

and think I will do this one next b/c of its translucent sides:

Top 50 Contributor
Posts 49

I would like to build a light box like that one with translucent sides. I live in a extremely dark flat but have had help of a 250w lights from my orchid case. It has broken now so now i have to take my shots in real dark environment. I haven`t yet been able to take any shots in natural light.

Top 500 Contributor
Posts 7

I suddenly feel very, very DIY. Natural light is my method of choice and I will schedule my shoots around it when possible. If not, a vast majority of my shots (or least the quality ones) were shot with 5500K daylight fluorescent bulbs in crappy aluminum construction lamps from Home Depot. Large sheets of vellum or tracing paper from the art store (a whopping $10 for a large pad) provide adequate diffusion if you have someone to hold them or a way to hang them in front of the lights. Oh, and I use a point-and-shoot. I have a general dislike for even slave flash arrangements, so I prefer stable lighting.

I use random bits of linen from around the house as backgrounds, et voila! It's simple, it's cheap, it gets the job done. It is also much less swanky than what Gabe has going on.

Top 75 Contributor
Posts 30

I use my light box made out of an old cardboard box and tissue paper with posterboard for the backdrop.  When I want to put the box away, I untape the tissue paper from 3 sides and then fold the box flat.  If the paper tears I just grab another sheet and retape.  For lights I have 2 woefully underpowered halogen reading lamps that you might use for a nightstand, and then I cheat and up the brightness, contrast, and sharpness in Fireworks (yes, Fireworks, I can't switch to's too ingrained that it's evil).

Cheap, easy, and folds up and goes into the closet when I have guests over (especially my 3yo niece).

Top 10 Contributor
Posts 205

Where's Boudreau on this?  He does a fantastic job at his blog - Spirits and Cocktails - with his photos.  In fact, he does such a good job that often as I am mining Google images for pictures to use on my blog - I run into different photos of his over and over again (using other people's photos is a whole different matter that perhaps should be discussed, too). 

Liberty Bar  ::  Seattle, WA  ::  Alcohology

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