Category: Product

Combining a taste for vintage port wine with the challenge of bottle photography.

The first step is to create the lighting that best suits the subject. The choice of colour, shape and design of these bottles have been carefully developed by the producer. Therefore, in bottle photography, it is essential to pay attention to detail and show off the embossed motif and labels; these are fundamental to the identity of the brand.

These are vintage port wine bottles that were originally dirty, scuffed, scratched and just plain old. Many had damaged and misaligned labels as well as creased foil tops/capsules. When photographing new products, it is often possible to choose the best looking bottles. Not so in this case; here there is a limited choice with often only one example available.

Here is an example of the before and after images – drag the slider to the left and right to preview.

 

It is important to me to photograph each bottle as best I can. With all bottle photography, I regularly take two or three images and then merge them together after the session, during post-processing. Conversely, this helps to minimise the time required to bring them to a state that could be perceived as better than new.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of port wine then I recommend a visit to Porto. An excellent and reasonably inexpensive city break destination where you can visit one of the many port houses, such as Graham’s, for a tour and wine tasting session.

I am available to photograph your products, and as much as I enjoy it, not just wine! I produce images for all types of product and business, which can be as simple or as creatively adventurous to suit your needs.

You can contact me directly by telephone or by completing my contact form to schedule a consultation.


Based in High Wycombe (UK), supporting local, national and international customers.

Splash photography and the beauty of the pour. Freezing the movement of liquid has always captivated my imagination.

Each snap of the shutter creates a unique image reflecting the beauty of the pour. Take a moment to think about the multitude of variables involved in the simple act of pouring wine into a glass; they are numerous, complex and compound.  It is this random element of splash photography that fascinates me… the angle and flow of the pour, the timing of the shot, the curve of the glass and a whole lot more result in a diversity of shapes and swirls of varying translucence as the liquid glances off the surfaces. The usually unseen or barely glimpsed turmoil becomes visible and a natural beauty is captured in an instant that can never be exactly repeated again.

This led me to wonder what would happen if I were to remove the wine glass and just free pour… would it seem like an explosion rather than the usual controlled pour.  I drew up a concept sketch, my best guess of what would happen added to what I wanted to achieve. I switched it around 180 degrees to empathise that explosive effect… maybe a touch ambitious but this is my imagination, right?

Splash Photography

Pour Concept Sketch

It was pleasing to solve the problem…

…that I had presented myself. The outcome was not so far off from my expectations. However, I had not imagined the crystal-like quality of the turbulent wine as it struck and bounced off the surface.

Splash Photography

Pour Shot with Decanter

The set-up was basic and based around a small aquarium – the benefit of a glass tank is that the liquid is contained and therefore easy to clean up. Here is a sneak peek behind the scenes.

Splash Photography

Pour Behind the Scenes

I found that the result could be used in many ways with the P52 assignment template. I enjoy how by just changing the angles the dynamic and energy of the pour can be affected.

Splash Photography

Pour with Template

Photograph some high heel shoes! Now, how hard can that be?

I immediately called my fashion-conscious daughter to provide a selection of her favourite heels.  I soon realised the design and construction of shoes present a far more complex subject than I had anticipated.  The intricate combination of shape, line, curves, and material pose a demanding but ultimately fascinating challenge.

High Heel Shoes BTS

High Heel Shoes Behind the Scenes

To get the image looking just right, required a more complicated lighting set-up then I would typically use. Introducing a number of speedlites to complement the studio strobes is a great way to add and quickly adjust the fine details with a wink of low-powered light as required.

Red High Heel Shoes Shoes

Dorothy’s Dance

Hanging High Heel Shoes

Suspend

Adding a splash, introduced a few new challenges. As a glass tank reflects, it’s no longer an easy process to place a light. Also, it was crucial not to water damage these expensive shoes.  Problem solving hat on…

High Heel Shoes Tank bts

High Heel Shoes in Tank – Behind the Scenes

The extra effort paid off…

High Heel Shoes Splash

Disruption

Photographed as part of a Project 52 assignment

“They need something that SCREAMS Chocolate!”

Where do you go with a brief like that? Food photography is my passion, and there are many options to choose from… lifestyle, still-life, extreme close-up, the list goes on. With the freedom to do my own thing then why not go bold, with a large helping of impact, rather than take a well trodden path to food photography?

“…search out the best quality and most fresh ingredients, hand picking only the most perfect of items”

To start, I always think about the hero of the image, and in this case I have free reign; an idea formulates immediately!  Just recently, I have been helping an ice cream producer to improve their in-house images and they just so happen to make the most delicious Belgian chocolate variety. The texture and colour are perfect.

That leaves me to search for the props. During my journey to find other chocolate produce, I keep in mind an important aspect of great food photography, to search out the best quality and most fresh ingredients, hand picking only the most perfect of items.

I am now in procession of more chocolate than at any other time in my life.  As I start unwrapping, melting, pouring and posing each of the items, the room, NO, the building, is filled with the appetizing aroma of cocoa. What an enjoyable environment to work in but I need to break from the camera to start assembling my ideas into what will be the first draft of the image.

Food Photography - Chocolate Galaxy First Draft

Food Photography – Chocolate Galaxy First Draft – John McAllister

It’s almost there, I can see what’s working and what is amiss… I have more product to photograph and I know exactly what I need. Chocolate is an amazing and versatile subject to work with; solid and shiny, creating dust clouds from powder, and then “Wow!” it comes together; that’s it, DONE!

Food Photography - Chocolate Galaxy

Food Photography – Chocolate Galaxy – John McAllister

Here’s a before and after view, just drag the slider left and right to compare the draft to the final image

 

This is My Chocolate Galaxy, food photography with impact…

…and if it doesn’t scream chocolate to you then I’ll take solace in a rather large bowl of ice cream sprinkled with all sorts of chocolaty delights.

Oh my, another idea has just sprung to mind!

The Art of Dining Out

As a photographer, I am keenly interested in how images help persuade me when, where and how to spend my hard earned cash.

I travel on a regular basis and I like my food. Unfortunately, the two rarely mix well , so I’m continually searching for great locations for dining out. If practical, I’ll ask a friend or colleague for a referral and often, I’ll brave searching my favoured online advisers. Once I have my dining out shortlist, I almost always visit each restaurant’s website to get directions, check the menu and scan the prices so that I won’t be too surprised when presented with the bill!

So why do I choose one restaurant over another?

In order of preference, I would say…
1. Value for money
2. Perception of quality (Referrals/Reviews/Website)
3. My food preference
4. The location

Of course, everyone’s priorities differ! With that in mind, I have included links to several relevant articles that I found interesting and I hope you will too.

40 Tasty Restaurant Websites to Inspire You
Since the main content of a restaurant is their food – or at least it should be – there is no better thing to do than show beautiful images of the food…

An Excellent Series of Marketing Articles
From “Strategies to Help Google Find Your Restaurant” to “How to Incorporate Your Restaurant Website into Your Customer’s Experience”

The Art of Food Photography
They say a picture paints a thousand words. But it can also tempt the appetites of millions of hungry customers…

Restaurant Marketing: What Do You Need?
This is the second article in a five-part series that details exactly what you need to market your restaurant and make it a success.

Triggering Taste Buds Through Imagery
Considering the incredibly competitive nature of the restaurant industry, maintaining a steady flow of foot traffic can be a tall order, especially since the dining experience begins long before a customer walks through a restaurant’s doors.

Restaurant Statistics
Find out some interesting (and not so interesting) stats about the restaurant industry, you may be surprised!

I had a blast putting together my first videos; the making of apple splash.

You can freely download and use the actual RAW files used to create the final image from the bottom of this page.

Here’s part one where the images are created.

[embedyt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3p-gPXvYVHw&vq=hd720&width=500&autoplay=1&modestbranding=1&rel=0&autohide=1[/embedyt]
The second is where the images are prepared in Photoshop

[embedyt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUrr3XUzkZU&vq=hd720&width=500&modestbranding=1&rel=0&autohide=1[/embedyt]
The third finishes preparing the images and starts to put things together

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqOCncAppyo&vq=hd720&width=500&modestbranding=1&rel=0&autohide=1[/embedyt]
The fourth video completes the set is here.

[embedyt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHEvMy_A3Mw&=hd720&width=500&modestbranding=1&rel=0&autohide=1[/embedyt]

Here are the RAW (Lightroom DNG format) images you can freely download

Note: They are from 17MB to 26MB each

The final image may need a little fine-tuning but the concept worked for me.

making of apple splash - P52 Summer Assignment 26: “Wet” #3

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What a fun weekend playing with water during the short time the sun showed it’s face.

It all started as an idea, here’s a sketch of my original concept.

Concept Sketch Wet

So how to achieve this in a photo?

I don’t mind water but to get this right would require many shots and as many changes of clothes.

First things first, let’s get the water right. Aiming the garden hose at a sheet of Perspex just didn’t work; this created way too much spray, and other than soaking the camera (and photographer) it would be almost impossible to isolate the splash from the background.

Spray Hose Splash

Eventually, I tried a small bucket of water. This proved far more effective and created interesting shapes as it arced through the air, even the splash was more controlled.

Splash Bucket

At the computer, it was fairly easy to isolate the water using Photoshop.

Bucket Splash Cutout

Almost there but the background could be better, then I looked up at that clear’ish blue sky, just the job!

Bucket Splash in Sky

Back to Photoshop for a little experimentation… I had a substitute image to practice on, a lovely red apple that I’d shot a day or so before. I bit of Photoshop layer masking / blending and a filter or two later, and here are the final Apple Splash images.

Wet Apple Splash

Making Apple Splash has been fun with surprisingly effective results. I hope I will be able to use my new found techniques and do the original concept some justice. Click on any image on this page for a closer view or click here to see even bigger photos on my Flickr site.

**Update: Kept with the red apple theme for the assignment submission but will try to complete the original concept in the near future

Red Apple Splash in a Globe

The Project 52 assignments are really helping me to understand how to light subjects. Our last assignment was a free-shoot so, drawing on my new found knowledge, I set myself the task of creating a portfolio-worthy image of a perfume bottle.  Here’s the image I submitted for the critique.

Men's Perfume Diesel Fuel for Life

 

Once I had my safe shot, I then attempted to photograph my wife’s perfume; this turned out to be much more of a challenge than I had anticipated. The bottle, designed to look like a diamond, is pleasing to the eye but trying to capture the beauty called on some resourceful techniques.

Initially, I wanted the bottle to glow with the idea of a “Diamond in the Rough” shining out.

Perfume Diamonds First Shot

 

The result was okay but I wanted the diamond facets to be clearly defined. Fortunately, I had shot several images with various lighting arrangements so after a few moments of editing I had a final and more appealing version.

The good news is that I have at least one image for my portfolio, if not two… mission achieved.

Perfume Diamonds Second Shot

1

Ken came to visit for Sunday Dinner this weekend and brought along his Nikon camera. I’d promised we would do a shoot using flash.  I’m not that good a teacher but it’s a great way to self-learn when you try to explain what and why you are doing something. Drinking too much Jack Daniel’s does not help!  Anyhow, before we opened the bottle of Jack Daniels’s, we did get numerous shots with all types of lighting arrangement.

After packing away the equipment and uploading the images to the computer it soon became apparent that we had missed a few elements of the image – Photoshop to the rescue again along with some new-found tips from the recent Creative Live broadcast How to Be a Commercial Photographer.  Here’s the final image.


jack daniel's - JM Does JD

 

We also had a little time for me to take a quick snap of one of my favourite aftershaves. A little over-processed but hey, so is the scent 🙂

Rough Diesel

 

Watching the Creative Live broadcast, How to Be a Commercial Photographer, last night. They used more lights than you can imagine to create an image of an expensive-looking bottle of liquor. Just the inspiration I needed, which presented an opportunity to try something similar with just a single light to get a bottle of liquor to sing. It’s harder than I expected – simply finding a suitable bottle can be a challenge but if I’m going to complete this week’s Project 52 assignment entitled “Being Exceptional” ( Discussion Page / Project 52) and, then I’m going to have to stretch my abilities a little further.

So six of liquor shots later….

with two white foam-boards, some help from my assistant, a ten second timer and by hand-holding a large softbox, here are the images before processing.

Liquor - BTS for Assignment 15: Becoming Exceptional

Once uploaded to the computer I was not too impressed; the lighting was not as I envisioned with a not-too-straight horizon and the camera had moved between shots. Nevertheless, let’s see what we can do to recover this as I do not have time to retake plus my assistant has left for the day.  There again, I do like the backlit image.

A few hours of Photoshop has helped me to almost reproduce my original vision.

Lighting the Liquor

I wonder if this type of lighting would even be achievable without Photoshop.