Christmas – It’s only a couple of days away. Many of us will be enjoying winter ales and Christmas beers this week. Many of us have already started but that was just prep work for this week. I’m going to share a few tips with you that I use when I take pictures of beer (or even people) in front of Christmas lights.
I first learned how to take pictures of Christmas lights properly by reading a blog by David Hobby called The Strobist. The idea is simple and really you can use most any camera though a cell phone may pose a bit of a challenge. You want to get your camera steady by placing it on something solid or using a tripod. You want to make sure that the shutter speed is slow enough to let in the glow of the little lights or candles while also allowing your flash (preferably off camera) to illuminate your subject without washing out your Christmas lights.
For my first image I’m going to use a very basic image. This is Narwhal for Santa which is a beer I really think Santa loves. The idea was simple, a close up low depth of field shot of an eaten cookie while showing off the dark beer that is Narwhal. You can catch a hint of the season with items in the background but the focus is the beer. For this shot, I had my camera on a tripod and used a single external flash into a small softbox. I had to keep the flash on it’s lowest setting because I wanted to use an aperture of 2.8 to blur all but the label. The flash was on a stand to the left rear of the camera facing the beer. My ISO was 400 and shutter speed was a slow 0.4 seconds. The entire background is lit by white Christmas lights on a wreath. To keep the color balance of the flash equal to the incandescent Christmas lights I added an orange filter to my flash.
The next image was used for Daniel Hartis‘ book Beer Lover’s the Carolinas. The beer he chose to use for Highland Breweing‘s popular beer, Cold Mountain.
I took this image in October of 2013 so we had to borrow a bottle of Cold Mountain from Mike Brawley and thank goodness my mom keeps a decorated tree in her upstairs closet at all times.
For this shot I did a composition of different lighting set ups since I wasn’t in my studio. I placed the Christmas tree as far as I could from the bottle and brought in a couple of strobes with softboxes. I used daylight coming from a window on the right as well as a strobe up high. Then I used a six foot white panel to get the light on the left of the bottle and glass. There was a decent amount of light so my ISO was 400 and my shutter speed was 1/10th of a second.
Highland Brewing’s Cold Mountain – Featured in Beer Lover’s the Carolinas
The next shot was much easier. I didn’t use any flashes at all. Instead I used a candle as my front light as seen in the glass’s reflection. I had the camera on the Av setting at an apperture of 4.5 and ISO of 400. It was on a tripod and I used the 2 second timer to avoid camera shake. Super easy shot you can do with an iPhone even.
I also love pictures of winter beers in the snow. I covered quite a few on my first post but I’ll put a few back up here.
Accumulation Ale is an obvious choice for a snow shot. This was nothing more than putting the beer bottle and glass into the snow while the sun just barely peeked out of a cloudy gray sky.
This shot was posted last time but is still one of my favorites, Green Man’s Forester. See the original post for set up details.