If you follow my Flickr feed, you might have seen this picture of a Fischer beer bottle. (if you don’t, well, you should: Daniel’s Flickr portfolio). For the neophytes, this is called a packshot, and you have seen thousands of them, they are mostly used in advertisement but not only.
You may wonder how I shoot this image. It’s actually a very simple setup which involves two flashes, a softbox and a black background.
One bare flash is aimed at the back of the bottle and is hidden by the bottle itself, the second one directly in front of the bottle is at a 45° angle, this one is using my 60″ softbox.
The tricky part is to place the bare flash correctly, you have to be able to hide it completely with the bottle, it should create a nice diffuse light inside the bottle and not spill on the side.
This picture is far from perfection.
First you can notice that the label on the bottle is crooked, but I didn’t have another bottle and I couldn’t move the label into place. That’s bad, if this would have been a shot for a customer, I would have thrown the picture away.
You’ll also notice that there are some reflection on the glass and on the top sticker. These are called specular highlights and they are key to a good packshot. They need to be diffuse and, on this picture, perfectly centered.
But as you can see on the image, they aren’t. The specular highlight on the glass is slightly placed on the left and has sharp edges. My softbox may have been too far away and not perfectly centered, obviously I was sloppy so next time I’ll shoot a packshot, I’ll make sure to double-check this.