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Hello I have a product of a liquid gel hand sanitizer, what would be a good set-up to get a shot similar to this?

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/hand-sanitizer-gel-in-clear-pump-bottle-gm157429692-10071467?st=648aaad

How to keep the liquid gel recognizable and clear without everything looking white?

thanks :)

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Any material that is transparent such as glass, water, booze, Jello™, plastics, (and air bubbles) etc. have two basic lighting methods for display.

Dark-line technique which uses a light background to produce dark edges or
White-line technique which uses a dark background to produce light edges.

The iStock photo uses the dark line lighting technique that allows the background to show through the product and container. Bubbles have been introduced to show that there is a product in the container.

A well-illustrated comparison of the two lighting techniques is described with diagrams and photos of the result with additional variations.

sekonic.com - white-line-and-black-line-lighting

Controlling your exposure will determine the amount of detail in the highlights to keep them clean but without blowing them out.

Good Stuff.

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A quick google search for "Hand Sanitizer" shows almost entirely product photography done inside a table-top light box. Depending on what sort of "look" you're going for, it's probably what I would recommend, because it looks to be the standard for the industry. As well, the stock photo you linked to has that same appearance. If you look on Youtube for tabletop light box, there is a pretty wide variety of videos on DIY boxes as well as ones by companies such as Cowboy Studios. Most of the time, a simple white box with a white seamless backdrop and two speedlights will do the trick.

The backdrop colour should also be dictated by your client: do they want the photos for print? Will their ads be white (usually associated with cleanliness and purity)? Or are they looking for something more eye-catching - maybe using gels to adjust the colour of the light for a more artistic approach?

This is really a matter of trying various lighting setups using a light box or at least a seamless backdrop. The options are almost limitless, depending on the look you want. I would start with the simplest setup and go from there. Try a single, large, diffuse light source and putting the product inside the light box.. that might do it. If you have it available, a ring flash might also be a help - it can eliminate shadows and may diffuse the light enough to avoid refection. Something else I might try would be using a longer focal length lens and photographing the product at something like 200mm to isolate the subject.

I would recommend that if you're looking for further ideas or details, watch some youtube videos on product photography - the same hints that apply to jewelry should apply to hand sanitizer.

  • If you like the answer, you're always welcome to upvote it or accept it as correct! :D – Hurst Gannon May 10 '16 at 12:04
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I'll assume what you mean by "keep the liquid gel recognizable and clear" is giving good definition to the bubbles while keeping the rest of the gel very transparent (in other words, the well-defined bubbles are what give you a visual indication that there's anything in the bottle at all, since the background is featureless).

In your example shot, the bubbles have heavy shadows as a result of being lit primarily from above and behind (and a little to the right) by a fairly soft (large and diffused) source. Try placing the light source above the light box/tent/etc slightly behind the bottle, and adjust the forward/backward positions of the light and bottle relative to each other to get the balance of shadowed edges that you want.

The main point is that most of the light is bouncing through the bottle from the white background and above, rather than coming from the direction of the camera, which would give you reflections on the bottle instead.

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