How do you use a light-tent?
April 18, 2006 4:49 AM   Subscribe

I'm about to buy a light-tent to photograph wine bottles for use on a website. Anything I need to know?

I'm thinking about getting this light-tent so I can get professional quality pictures to place on my soon to be wine website.

I am not much of a photographer. I'm guessing that I just set this thing up and point some bright lights at it then snap away.
Am I missing anything important?? I really need to get professional looking pictures! Thanks.
posted by xoe26 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total)
A couple of links you might be interested in: make your own lightbox, etc. and Budget DIY Lighting System.
posted by SNACKeR at 5:09 AM on April 18, 2006

What model of camera do you have?
posted by fire&wings at 5:22 AM on April 18, 2006

I use a light tent to photograph toys.

First, make sure you have an iron. They get shipped with the backdrop folded, and it takes a few ironings to get the creases out.

Make sure the bottom of whatever you are photographing is clean. The backdrops are felt and discolor easily. I don't think they are machine washable. Save time in photoshop by making sure the items are clean.

Also, learn about your camera's macro function and white balance control. Using a white light tent with common household lights gives off a yellow hue. Proper exposure control and white balance settings can eliminate that hue.
posted by quibx at 6:10 AM on April 18, 2006

Get a pair of thin, white, cotton-y gloves so you can move items without leaving fingerprints as well as quickly wipe away any smudges.
posted by bcwinters at 6:44 AM on April 18, 2006

You'll find you'll need some shadows to get the best results. The light tent gets rid of all distracting reflections, but you'll probably need to add back in some dark areas to give the bottle a sense of roundness. For white wines you may be able to achieve most of what you need simply by lighting from the back of the tent, leaving the front mostly dark. For dark reds, light mostly from the sides. Assuming you shoot digitally, you can expose once for th glass and make a second exposure lit from the front for the label. It's tough to shoot both glass and label correctly if you haven't done a lot of photography, but digital makes it much simpler.
posted by johngumbo at 10:20 AM on April 18, 2006

Perhaps try to make one as SNACKeR suggests first to determine what a homemade setup lacks - and look for those features in a commercial setup?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 11:51 AM on April 18, 2006

I'm a rank amateur, but I've been using a homemade light tent to shoot beer bottles to good effect. Even with the tent, I have to work hard to get the lights positioned correctly to avoid sharp reflections. Watch out for the reflection of your own camera on the bottle!

I position my lights slightly in front of the bottles at different heights to provide a small degree of contrast. Back-lighting hasn't worked for me. I use tungsten lights, which give me a clean, white (not yellowed) look.

I've found if I drape an extra sheet across the outside of the tent, it does a good job cutting glare.

I used about $2 worth of 1/2-inch PVC tubing (which I can quickly pull apart to transport) and old, clean sheets to make the tent. I use a piece of felt (and it came through the wash just fine) draped from the back wall, down and beneath the bottle to create the background.
posted by sixpack at 11:58 AM on April 18, 2006

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