Studies in Champagne

January 06, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

New Year's Eve is traditionally a time of celebration and cheer, but with 2020 being the year that it was, general jubilance was maybe a bit muted, and for many, it was a time spent either alone or with a very small group.  The weirdness of this holiday season inspired me to explore the use of the traditional drink of celebration - champagne, or sparkling wine - in portraying the end of this sideways year. Images from this study are below, with notes on my thought process as I was making them.

Helkell TrockenHenkell TrockenTraditional sparkling wine
This is probably a traditional way of photographing a champagne/sparkling wine product. The label is clear, and effervescence is on display.  One thing I didn't count on was the weird reflections that my textured backdrop caused on the champagne glass, but in my mind, this is a decent first attempt.

C2008056C2008056
This is an example of "light field" photography for glass, where the glassware is outlined, allowing it to be seen where it might otherwise blend into the background. I chose this lighting pattern in order to highlight the colour of the drink and show the bubbles. This is a typical way to photograph glasses and liquids; I just wish I'd used a larger backlight in order to make the outline of the champagne glass more crisp.

C2008120Holiday lightsLights in the background give a sense of celebration to this drink.
This is probably the most celebratory image that I have in this set. The holiday lights and reflected table top light from below raise the mood of this image, which is meant to give the idea that it was taken in a dark bar or club. Sadly, the drink has gone flat here, and I didn't have a way to wake up the bubbles, but lesson learned - champagne bubbles don't last very long! Next time I do this I'll have a few Alka-Seltzer tablets on hand.

New year’s aftermathNew year’s aftermath

Aftermath 1. This image is actually what I had envisioned when I started thinking about how to portray the oddness of celebrating this new year.  The lighting design is intended to evoke morning light coming through a partially-open window. As for the content/props - the small twist-top bottle of sparkling wine, the single glass, hat, and noisemaker - these were chosen to portray the small gathering sizes that most people experienced this year, as well as the hardship that many faced**.  (**Aside: I couldn't bring myself to use Baby Duck for this shoot, despite it definitely being a cheap alcohol alternative. My intention was not to portray a high school party vibe!)

C2008019-HDRNew Year's Aftermath 2Post-new year's celebration scene.

New Year's Aftermath 2. After I took the first "Aftermath" picture, I reviewed it on my computer, and decided that there were technical aspects of it that I didn't like. The glass was too dirty, the fact that the bottle was a twist-top wasn't readily apparent, and I'd allowed too much of the light source into my frame, causing too much flare. This was my second attempt at this image, using a cleaner glass and an HDR-type of technique to better control the highlights and shadows, and upon reflection I'm not sure that it's an improvement. Yes, in my mind it's a bit clearer, but it's almost *too* sanitized and loses some of the grunge of the first attempt.

 

What are your thoughts? What emotions did the above images evoke? How did you spend your New Year's Eve?


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