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Every other month our blog posts a tutorial showing how to take at home the pictures we create in the studio. If you have a question about our suggestions please don’t hold back - write to us.

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I am an advertising photographer in NYC. My pictures help large corporations sell more and keep their brands looking fresh. I am also the founder of Via U!, an online studio dedicated to creating photography that helps people selling in Etsy increase their sales too.

1. August 2011 15:54

Making an Ordinary Plastic Bottle Look... Extraordinary

How to take photos of a product plastic container and make it look great? Here is a step by step tutorial showing how to create highlights that can make plain materials look out of this world.

Make a background sweep using wrapping paper and empty boxes. It is a good idea to put a few heavy things inside the boxes so they are not empty anymore.

Please take a look at this post


To diffuse the light use a piece of translucent acrylic (plexiglas). This piece is 12” x 24 but certainly you could use a larger one. A larger size is more flexible and will allow you to take pictures from higher camera angles. Acrylic sheets come in different thickness and densities. This one is 1/4” thick and translucent. It gives maximum transmission of light and it’s use in light boxes. A good all purpose piece for objects the size of a bottle is 24” x 24”

It’s important that the edge closer to the camera stays free of anything that blocks the light.  You can use two spring clamps in the other side to hold the acrylic in place.

To control the light you will need to move the flash from the front to the back. The closer the flash is to the acrylic the smaller the area with light will be. Leave about 2 feet of space between the acrylic and the edge of the table to have enough the space to play.

If you place the flash so that some of the light goes out of the acrylic the highlight on the bottle will have a bright edge that will make glossy surfaces look... glossy.

Placing the flash at the center creates a highlight with soft edges.

You may like putting highlights that start from the back of the bottle.
This is one case when bigger would definitely have been better, I ended up putting the flash at the very edge of the table after all.

If you like to make a larger highlight you will need to spread the light more. Put a second piece of acrylic between the flash and the bottle.

To create a highlight on the other side of the bottle use a reflective material to bounce the light from the flash. Here I used a piece of shiny silver cardboard that is 12 x 18.

You can buy one in an art store or make your own

You can control the size and shape of highlight by rotating the silver card and by moving it closer, or further away, from the bottle. The closer to the bottle the card gets, the bigger the size of the highlight.

Putting the card close to the lens moves the highlight to the center of the bottle.

Isn’t amazing the options a piece of cardboard can give?

This is where I ended up putting things to photograph a matte plastic bottle...

... and for a glassy bottle.

Cleanser is a loan from Steam Bath Factory, thank you Tabitha.

To make shout look brawny I did not use the card at all and let one side of the bottle stay dark.


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