Hi I'm Eric Gaddy (AKA Beard the Beer Bard) and I want to help you take better beer pictures. This blog will contain lots of behind the scenes shots of the beer (and other) images I take and a description on what I'm doing to the image and the thought process behind it.
When I first read about the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp collaborations I was mildly interested. It was a great concept that promotes more than just craft beer; it promotes out craft community. Once I started reading about the collaborations I was more than mildly interested, I was hooked. With names like Maillard's Odyssey and Myron's Walk I starting having ideas about images of beers in these epic scenes. Most of these never came to fruition but I attempted to get a few.
The collaboration that caught my eye the most was with New Glarus called There and Back. I am a Tolkien fan through and through so the idea of a beer having a Tolkien-esque theme (There and Back Again) meant I had to try it and attempt some neat #beertography while I was at it.
There and Back - New Glarus & Sierra Nevada I tried to come up with a hobbit scene that didn't distract from the beer but also gave the idea that it was time for an adventure. I had a few props that I wanted to use such as Bilbo's sword, Sting. I also wanted a traveling cloak so I settled with a wool throw that you see the sword rested on. The thing I'm currently realizing I should have included was a tobacco pipe.
Ambient light was getting low but that worked in my favor. I used two strip lights with grids to focus light only on the sword/cloak and then the bottle/beer.
I used a large white fill card to the right to give detail on the label and help the beer show its color. I used 1/125th shutter @ f8.0 w/ ISO 1250.
The humidity was horrid so there was no chance of getting condensation off of the bottle which bugs me in this picture. There & Beck Set Up Shot
I picked up a 12 pack of the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp beers and held on to it for a while because I had an idea to photograph each beer from the pack. I finally started drinking and photographing them last weekend.
Sierra Nevada's #beercamp - Yonder BockCollab with Cigar City I was looking around for props to use for this shot. I found an old crate that I held a bunch of ears of corn I purchased from a farmer. I didn't really find a decent way to show off the crate but it worked.
Nothing special about this set up. I used two strip lights with baffles on the left and right. The ambient light was bright enough to take on it's own but I wanted to have the can stand out as the dominant focus.
I purchased a bottle of Highland Brewing's 20th Anniversary Scotch Ale after trying it at Blue Mountain Pizza and Brew Pub. It's extremely smooth for the style and I can't wait to get another one. For this photo I went out to our wood shed and used some old tin roof as a backdrop. I needed a little extra fill light so I broke out my handy iPhone flash light.
Highland Brewing Co. Scotch AleiPhone 5 flash used as rim light. I grabbed a tulip glass from the cabinet and headed to the wood shed to get a rustic picture. It was extremely muggy and getting late in the evening so there was a lot of condensation on the bottle and glass. I was using my 135mm lens at 2.8 and had bumped the ISO up to 1600 and I still couldn't get a decent shot because I didn't have my tripod.
I needed more light but I hadn't brought and flashes with me. I did have my iPhone with me however. Improvising is a big part of my workflow in photography. You can see the difference in the photo on the left vs the photo on the right. No fill light or rim light.
The image to the left has better definition and the beer bottle stands out more because the background is brighter as well as the bottle having a rim light to outline the shape of the bottle.
In hind sight I should have gone out to take the photo earlier than dusk but thanks to my dslr I was able to achieve a decent image. At this light level it would have been too dark for a cell phone.
You can achieve great images by using a cell phone flash as fill light. If you have a couple friends who are willing to let you borrow their phones at the bar you can take your #beertography to the next level even using your cell phone.
One of my favorite North Carolina breweries is Green Man Brewery in Asheville. I grew up among the trees and images of the deity the Green Man always make me feel at home. The Forester is brewed with roasted and chocolate malts and is perfect for the cold weather. Earlier this year we had one of those rare North Carolina snow storms that shut everything down. I was prepared with plenty of beer. I decided to take advantage of the snow and snow day to get in some #beertography.
Green Man Brewery's Forester Winter Stout Even though it was 32 degrees and snow was falling I decided to take some equipment out into the woods where a massive oak tree fell a few years ago. This made for the perfect flat surface (though not completely level) to use for my photo. I took this photo about 5 or 6pm which is why the background is so dark. I had to drag the shutter 13 seconds just for that much light.
For my setup I used a single flash gelled with a CTO into a 60" white shoot through umbrella.
For this image I held the light stand so that the umbrella was positioned right over the top of the beer and bottle. I did my best to get the umbrella as close as possible to the beer to avoid terrible hot spots. I was able to get away with a single light due to the snow acting as a natural light reflector as you can see reflected on the glass. I can't remember exactly what my strobe was set on but I'm sure it was low.
I didn't really do anything in the way of post processing. The background was blue because my flash was covered in the CTO gel and that's what I white balanced for. I may have brushed the label and foam to make them brighter and added a small amount of vignette.
I tried to get a setup shot with my iPhone but it was so dark already that it looks horrible. Here it is anyways.