How to Photograph Wine Bottles with Macro Photography

Photographing a wine bottle falls under the same rules as macro photography, but it is not exactly the same thing. Macro photography is defined as the subject being represented as its true size in the photographic medium (film or image sensor). A wine bottle is a little too big for that. But, for practical purposes, we will give it the same treatment.

Find a Background

The first step is to find an appropriate background. The easiest way to do this is to get a role of set paper in a solid color. Rig it on two stands so that you can pull the roll down to your set. You don't want any creases or corners to appear. The goal is to make the color look infinite, and corners ruin that illusion.

The harder, but probably more visually appealing, background is something that's real. (Like a fancy apartment with wine glasses next to the bottle.) What makes shooting like this much more complicated is that your need to shoot with a closed aperture to maintain a great depth of field. That means you need bright lights, and a lot of them because you're not only lighting the bottle, but also the background.

Lighting the Bottle

A wine bottle is made out of glass, and that creates a huge nightmare for the photographer lighting it, because glass is reflective. Your budget is going to dictate how you'll handle this. If money is not an object, then big lights (5ks or larger) shined through some very thick diffusion (1000h, which is a fancy photographer's word for tracing paper works well, so does think frosted plastic) will work. You want to use the thick diffusion because it will be best at totally breaking apart your light beam with an even spread. You need the large lights because the diffusion is so thick that small beams will just get lost in it. This strategy will give you a soft, even light with minimum reflection.

If you can't afford the lights, you need to improvise. Shine a light into bounce card and use that to light the bottle. It will give you soft light with minimal reflections. You should do everything in your power to make the bottles look good on set. But, if you're still stuck with some reflections, do not stress out over them. You'll fix it in post.


If there is reflection from a light, you can fix it in Photoshop. Use the brush tool and set it to the color of the bottle. Go over the reflection with the brush, and your unwanted light is gone. You may need to go over it again with the blur tool to blend it in.

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