In this video photographer, Gavin Hoey demonstrates how you can shoot complex reflective glassware step by step using a single main light (with or without some extra assistance) on a black or white background.
We recently had our own complex experience shooting complex reflective bottles on a white background and it can certainly be very challenging and require a lot of work both during a shoot and in post.
In this video, Hoey shows a more creative approach that uses backlighting. The first example takes a very reflective bottle and brings light from behind it but blocks most of it using black cardboard. By increasing the size of the light (using a softbox or a large diffuser you can make the edges more clear. In this case, the liquid inside is not visible. If you want to give it some color you can use a small light from the back.
Hoey uses the KYU-6 lights by Spiffy Gear (which we reviewed here only recently) to bring some color from behind the product (we have done so ourselves and it works as long as you can hide the light bracelet somehow behind the product).
Moving on to white background – you don’t necessarily need an actual proper “background”, in many cases, you can actually use a diffuser and shine a light through it to create a white background effect which is exactly what Hoey is doing in this video.
You can go for a completely white background but for some reason, this is not the look Hoey was going for (if it was it would have helped him more to remove some of the reflections that he was getting but overexposing the image by 3 stops seemed to help a bit anyway.
The next trick which has less to do with exposure and more with making more defined edges is using black cardboards as close as possible to the glass on the sides but out of the frame (or at least out of the area that you want to edit in post). This certainly helps and what you can see is that it is better to place the longer edge of the black cardboard well behind your product (again be careful that it won’t get into your subject).
Finally, Hoey has a nice trick to show where he uses a bottle of wine and a glass and put some water into the glass and creates a lens effect which is kind of cool. He also demonstrates how he can quickly change the color of a blue or green bottle into any color in Photoshop and add some textured background.
Update: Bonus video – Valentina from Aputure on Lighting for Reflections