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What's the best way to take photos of a clear plastic bottle for product shots?

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    Possibly define "best", or this might get closed for being primarily opinion-based or too broad. – inkista Sep 23 '15 at 16:52
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    With a camera?? – Michael C Sep 23 '15 at 18:00
  • I would imagine it is the same as doing it for a glass bottle. fstoppers.com/commercial/… – Max Sep 23 '15 at 18:18
  • do you have good and bad examples? – Skaperen Sep 24 '15 at 11:23
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You want to use bright field lighting.

Have a bright white background behind the bottle, and darkness everywhere else. This ensures you minimise reflections but at the same time give your bottle some definition. You will either need a lot of space to achieve this, or some very good black anti-reflective drapes to be able to control the lighting.

If you don't have access to a studio or very large open space you will find it very hard to get good photos of clear plastic bottles.

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Use a full “tent” with multiple soft lights outside.

Even the normal hole you shoot through can show up in reflections/lighting-changes on the bottles, so making a tent of drapery that exactly fits your need would be advantageous.

With a tent you have control over everything around the bottle that will be reflected. Otherwise you get images of everything in the room showing up. Even "darkness" shows, as darker reflected patches in the highlights (or missing highlights).

My bottles are shiny but not clear. In the zoomed-in view you can see remaining reflections. I used a pre-made tent and tried to blend in the softness of the "missing" patches with paper towels, other drapes, or whatnot. I also had to blend with Photoshop on the tallest bottles.

You'll have a far worse headache with clear bottles, with nothing to show except the reflections and highlights.

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  • A clear plastic bottle wont show up very well at all in a light tent! You want to use bright field lighting, with the only light directly behind the product (forming a pure white backdrop). The way to fight reflections is with darkness, not more light! – Matt Grum Sep 24 '15 at 10:16
  • OK, black drapes everywhere except the back. I'll have to play around with more combinations of dark and bright when I have transparent/shiny but not clear, again. Or is clear a special case? What about stick-on opaque labels? – JDługosz Sep 24 '15 at 20:35
  • Clear plastic is a special case because of the difficulty in making it show up against a white background. Other colours are easier. Stick on opaque labels on a clear glass or plastic bottle can be difficult because you have a perfectly specular object (the bottle) and a perfectly diffuse object (the label) each of which suits a completely different lighting arrangement. It's best to light the bottle as normal (with the bright field technique) and aim a pair of lights at the label at around 45 degrees, snooted and aimed to minimise reflections from the bottle. – Matt Grum Sep 25 '15 at 13:29

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