Chasing Rays Blog

Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup Product Shoot

My wife’s boss is Canadian.

Last time they met up, he gave her a gift of maple syrup; the brand name, I think, is Tastefully Canadian Maple Syrup, though I can’t seem to find their website, if they have one. I’ve only tasted the genuine stuff once before in my life, and this second bottle was certainly no disappointment.
"I’ve only tasted the genuine stuff once before in my life, and this bottle was certainly no disappointment…"

On to the maple syrup product shoot details….

My base for this shoot was a 1000 x 500 mm sheet of black glossy Perspex, laid short-end on to the camera, with a white background hung about three feet behind it.

The background was illuminated with a 160 LED video light, which I initially gelled with a full CTO gel block to give a warm diffuse glow behind the product itself; this was later changed to a transparent diffuser to give the more ‘clean’ glow in the later images in my mini-gallery, below.

The combination of Perspex and backdrop produced the beautiful reflection you can see in the Perspex, of both the product itself and of the background lighting. This soft, graduated glow is used to draw the eye to the product.

Side lighting was provided by two softboxes, which I gridded and added a cover hanging of tracing paper to further diffuse the glow on the maple syrup bottle. The softboxes were placed directly to the sides of the bottle, facing slightly towards camera. A couple of blackened flags were put in between the softboxes and camera to prevent lens flare. The softbox flashes were remotely triggered using a Phottix Odin transmitter and receiver set.

The fourth, and last, light was a small desktop single LED lamp that was snooted to direct a very focussed beam onto the product label. The intensity of this was minimised by means of the exposure settings on the camera so as just to slightly accent the label.

You should note that within the tolerance of the maximum sync speed of the camera and the capabilities of the speedlights, controlling ambient exposure in this way doesn’t affect the flash exposure. Ok, sure, it’s a slight generalisation, but you can essentially regard ambient and flash sources as two completely separate – and separately controlled – exposures when you’re mixing light sources.

To give a sharp, consistent image, the camera was set on a tripod about five feet from the product. All this is summarised in this lighting diagram:

One thing this setup can never give you is the luminous inner glow through the liquid. This is a general issue with liquids, and is combated in the same way; you place a coloured piece of reflective card – here, card backed with gold foil – behind the bottle.

This card sometimes sticks out a bit from behind the product or, as in this case, it can be more convenient to just handhold the card, hence the image compositing in Photoshop CC; my hand and the excess card needed to be removed in post-production.

I should stress that it is for this reason only that any image compositing was needed. Otherwise the images you see here have been slightly saturated for effect only; they are otherwise good to go straight out of camera. Post was only used here to add a bit of zing.

All these images really needed were some pancakes to set off the maple syrup. And this would have happened… except my wife realised the ones I’d bought specially for this shoot were a couple of days from going out of date and, as she put it, ‘removed’ them from harm’s way.

She said they went in the bin – along with, apparently, exactly the right amount of maple syrup that one would otherwise need to consume said pancakes. Millions would not believe this explanation, and I’m one of those millions.

So… enjoy my images of a half-empty bottle of maple syrup without pancakes.

All the best,

Chasing Rays Photography.




Hardware Used


About the Author

Mark Watkins

Mark WatkinsI've been a photographer since 2006 and a computer fanatic since 1995. I hope to share my passion for photography with you through the products and services I offer through my website. See me on Google+ | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedInView all posts by Mark Watkins →

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