I didn’t really have any actual Spanish music on my iPod when I went into the studio last night for the Spring 2009 Bottle Shoot for Spanish Vines, so Buena Vista Social Club had to suffice, to get me in the mood (yes I know its Cuban, not Spanish, but the vibes are similar, and that was really all I needed). The one thing I love about working in the studio on a small shoot like this, is that I can put on some music, sip a drink, and work at my own creative pace, even though the client needed the shots turned around extremely quickly. Not too long ago I would have dreaded being stuck in a dark studio for an hour or two, but I guess with age has come an appreciation for the opportunity to slow down and work at a more relaxed pace.Since getting reflections on a shiny surface like a bottle of wine (especially a dark bottle of red) can be a bit tricky I decided to wire up my MacBook Pro, and tether through Aperture for this shoot, so I could more closely inspect the details of each image, and adjust accordingly. I haven’t tethered in a while, and forgot how nice it was to look at files on a 15-inch notebook screen as opposed to the 2-inch screen on the back of my camera. Another benefit to tethering this shoot is that all of the files were immediately available for editing after the shoot was completed, which allowed me to deliver the images to the client within their tight time frame.
As with most things in life, I like simplicity, so to keep lighting as simple as possible, I used a one light setup with a reflector. I’ve found over the years that the more lights you try to add, the more problems pop up. The main light for this shoot was an AlienBees: B800 flash unit with a Paul C. Buff large foldable softbox, that was flagged by a piece of black fabric to provide a stripbox like look. I used a white reflector to bounce a small amount of fill light back onto the label of the bottle to give it a little bit of extra pop, and provide an additional highlight reflection in the bottle to help give it some shape. The main reason for flagging the larger square softbox into a more narrow rectangle is to provide a slimmer catch light reflection in the bottle itself. The wider box ratio would have made the highlight a bit too wide for my liking.
I positioned the main light about four feet back from the bottle at varying angles to provide the highlight I was looking for, and then rotated the bottle to make sure that it was in the proper position and would interfere with the label.
When it was all over to total shoot with production time took about four hours to achieve the look that the client was interested in seeing. The images should be up on the client’s site soon, so check them out over at http://www.spanishvines.com and give this awesome wine a try, the next time you are in the mood for Tapas or your Spanish meal.