Light Matching your Subject Matter

Here at KJP we photograph everything from popcorn to properties and every day we are given a new task and a brief to hit. But sometimes we are gently handed an item and asked to see what we come up with. So in other words, "Can you make this look good?"

So here we have a bottle of Penfolds Grandfather Rare Tawny Port aged 20 years housed in a beautiful case. So how do we photograph this in a small space with only limited props? The short answer : for a port that has been around half of my lifetime, how about we let light do the talking.

So my approach to this was how do I keep it authentic and aged in a world where 42 megapixel cameras make products like this look too sharp. There are on camera filters, photoshop layers and many light controlling techniques. So I decided to utilise the last two mentioned.

How did I shoot this?

Lighting :

  • 1 Constant light source rIght hand side softened with a large diffuser.

  • 1 White corflute board on the left side hard angle bouncing the light back into the dark side to create an outline of the port.

  • 1 Small LED battery powered light hidden behind the box to create separation from the back boards.

  • 2 Black corflute boards used to isolate the light at the back left and hard right of bottle. This allowed the light to stream into the front right of the bottle directly taking our eye to the hero and gently illuminating the important elements of the box.

Backdrop, Boards & Props

  • Timber Boards

  • Timber Boards in the background standing up vertically

  • Native Australian bush with soft red flowers to accent the red in the bottle and the two glasses poured.


  • Sony A99 Mark ii with 105mm Macro for image compression

  • Ipad Pro live view to monitor the image as I manipulate the light around the subject without having to come back to the camera each time

  • Shutter controlled from Ipad

  • Manual focus

  • Shot Specs : f4 at 1/25s

Photoshop Edits

  • Basic level and curve changes

  • Reduced saturation in all colours except Red channel

  • Applied a screen layer at 30% opacity burnt orange

  • Applied a screen layer at 45% dark blue

  • Contrast layer added at 20% to negate screen effect and add depth

  • Enhanced reds

  • Black & White layer at 10% to remove vibrancy and offer old style feel

  • Burning and Dodging to create mood & enhance areas of importance

Have any questions about this image? Ask away!

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