How to add a beautiful backlit glow when photographing bottles

Post by
Jitz Lim
How to add a beautiful backlit glow when photographing bottles

Beverages and bottles can be one of the most challenging products to photograph. They are prone to reflections, picking up dust and fingerprints and if not lit correctly can appear dull and dark.

A simple solution that will bring new dimension and vibrancy to your bottle images is by adding a backlit glow. In this guide we'll be showing you three ways you can achieve this beautiful effect.

Here are three different techniques you can try on your next shoot:

1. Using gold or silver glow cards

The easiest way to get an illuminated effect on your bottle is to place a gold or silver card in a slightly slanted angle so it bounces light from your source back into the bottle. If you don't own any glow cards you can create one using a piece of paper or cardboard wrapped in aluminium foil cut to match the shape of the bottle you are photographing.

2. Backlighting the bottle directly

This method requires you to have at least two flash or off camera lights, one to light the back of the bottle and another to light the label on the front. Simply place a flash light at the back of the bottle, set it at its lowest power first then take some test shots. Gradually dial the flash power up until you achieve the desirable glow. Use the second flash light as fill to light the whole scene up. Alternatively, you can also use an external LED light panel or the flash light from your smartphone.

3. Compositing in post

This is a more advanced technique often used by professionals to achieve perfect lighting for the entire scene and only requires one flash flash light. This method combines two or more photographs to create one optimal image. To get the backlit bottle effect in Photoshop you can layer images with lighting targeted at different parts of the bottle and apply a layer mask on each to reveal a perfectly lit scene. Click here to learn more about layer mask techniques in Photoshop!

Whether you're an expert or a beginner, or have professional or entry level equipment, you can experiment with these beautiful bottle glow techniques from the comfort of your own home.

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