Photo of Chris Grey

Tricks of the Trade: Photographing Liquids

with Chris Grey
Tricks of the Trade: Photographing Liquids
Master the pour, the splash and the perfect shot with liquid photography skills!

Find out how to use simple props and expert lighting to create striking liquid imagery! Award-winning commercial photographer Chris Grey reveals industry secrets to help you create masterful photographs of bottles, cocktails, pours, splashes and much more. Learn how to use strategic lighting to create impressive images and discover quick tricks that add contrast, texture and detail to your photos. Find out how to use key lights and soft boxes to capture glasses and bottles with a stunning lit-from-within look. Use strobes and specialized gear for flawless shots of liquid being poured and master the splash with a lesson on freezing motion. Plus, discover essential post-processing skills, including how to combine the best components of multiple images into a striking composite.  

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Lesson plan


Lesson 1. Getting Started

  • Meet your instructor, professional photographer Chris Grey, and hear about the joys and challenges of photographing liquids. Then, delve into studio and gear needs before Chris introduces you to using a light meter, a studio photographer’s best friend.


Lesson 2. Ice Illusions

  • Discover how working with plastic ice cubes gives you the time, clarity and control you desire as Chris takes you through his first photographic technique. Learn how to use polarizers to diminish reflections and how to adjust your lighting and camera settings to compensate for their use.


Lesson 3. Appetizing Photographs

  • Add warmth and bring out details as Chris demonstrates a variety of ways to shoot beer and soda in and out of the bottle. Construct reflectors and add fill light using card stock. Unlock several secrets for creating a perfect head of foam and find out how a $5 flashlight can give your glass of icy soda an inner glow. Then, Chris guides you through the pitfalls — imperfect labels, phantom shadows and bottle imperfections — that are correctable in post-processing.


Lesson 4. Drama on the Rocks

  • Shoot dynamic photos of liquids in a glass using a single softbox under a platform you build yourself. Chris shares tips for making sure your ice looks realistic — inside and out of the glass — and offers advice for avoiding common mistakes. Then, learn compositional secrets for ensuring symmetry, quality and believability and how to look at your subject from different angles.


Lesson 5. Freeze the Pour

  • Capture liquid in action as Chris shows you how to freeze a wine pour. He details how to use a laminar liquid device (and includes a diagram for building your own in the class materials) before walking you through setting up your own shot with the help of accessory arms and clamps. Chris shares several cost-saving methods for taking great photos, even without a high-speed strobe.


Lesson 6. Make a Splash

  • Create photos that have impact as Chris demonstrates how to capture liquid splashing out of a glass. Discover how to set up your lights and backdrop and then gather tips for catching the moment where it all comes together. Explore a variety of compositions and, most important, keep shooting!


Lesson 7. Perfect the Image

  • Chris shows you how to polish to your photos in Photoshop as he cleans up shadows and adds contrast and dimension. Finally, he shows you step by step how to create an amazing composite photo as he combines his favorite parts of three shots from the previous lesson.

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