Photographing Clear Liquid Bottles (Gin/Vodka)

In this product photography workshop, recorded LIVE, Karl shows you how to light and photograph bottles of clear liquid such as gin or vodka.

Follow Karl step by step as he shows you how to photograph clear bottles like a professional and achieve truly stunning results.

Simple steps for photographing clear bottles:

  • Prepare the bottle – This includes cleaning the bottle and creating controllable condensation
  • Select the background and base surface – These will have a big impact on your overall image
  • Light the product – This can be done using just a few lights with basic modifiers
  • Photograph the bottle – Determine your composition and camera settings

Karl demonstrates how to achieve perfect condensation to create that cold, desirable look. He explains which backgrounds and base surfaces work best, and how to light the product beautifully using just two lights. He also shows you how to incorporate additional lights to further enhance your shot, highlighting the label and reducing unwanted shadows.

You’ll learn a host of pro-level clear bottle photography techniques that you can easily and effectively try out for yourself.

If you enjoy this class, check out our Whisky Photography and Wine Bottle Photography classes. You can also find tips for creating your own perfect condensation in The Perfect Pint and Condensation Cold Look.

Questions? Please use the comments section below.


  1. Hi Karl, thanks for the informative lighting class for transparent products.
    I am yet to finish looking at the the entire video, but curious about a few things like
    1. Why was the surface on which the bottle is placed chosen to be so low?
    (Isn’t it easy to shoot on a higher surface, approx waist height, so that you don’t have to bend down and struggle composing the shot looking into the camera. That is why the bottle must be tilted in the first attempt)
    2. Wouldn’t composing this shot in the live mode of the Capture one software using the grid lines made this easier?

    1. Hi Sanket and thank you. 1. Just so it makes it easier for our camera man to see the products and film. 2. Yes that would also work and is something you will see me use in other videos.

  2. Hello, Karl! Thank you for your tutorials! They are really great! I have a question about background, I know that you mentioned the answer during webinar, but my English is not perfect and I didn’t catch it. So could you repeat it for me in a written form?

    Why we use frosted acrylic for the back ground? Is it possible to use the same material for the background like for diffusers? I use for diffusers savage translum backdrop. What is the advantage of using frosted acrylic instead of savage film?

  3. Hi Karl,
    Thanks for this great video, I come up with a question, how or what is the best way to photograph a transperant cosmetic bottle which has been written on the front and the back of it ?

    I tried to light it from the back as it’s trasperant but the photo shows all the writings from the back and front overlapping each other, so could you please help me ?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. I forgot to mention, there is no label; the texture is directly on the front and the back of the bottle,

      Thanks in advance.

      1. Hi R, It’s quite simple: you currently have writing on the back of the bottle and you don’t want it there. So you have to remove it with a sharp blade and methylated spirits. If it doesn’t remove then you have to insert something inside the bottle to disguise it. But if you are shooting this for the client then you ask them to provide you with a blank bottle for you to shoot that only has the writing on the front.

  4. Hi Karl thank you for your great tutorials. I’ve got a question: If you had to decide to buy one thing: would you say you are more flexible with an acrylic mirror or would you buy a shiny black acryl plate? Best regards from Germany, Alex

    1. Hi Alex, thank you. I’m afraid I don’t quite understand the question? Black gloss acrylic or Acrylic Mirror? To use for what, do you mean a base surface for products to sit on? If that’s what you mean then I photograph more things on gloss black than on a mirror but the acrylic mirror is also good for a reflector for other shoots.

      1. Hi Karl, you are right. My question was not very specific. But you answered exactly what I wanted to know. Thank you very much!


    1. Hi, not if it is glossy as you may get reflections from this. As I was telling another members the frosted version is best as it is Matt finish.

      1. Thanks Karl

        Could you send me an example for reference, or a link where I can buy it?

        Thanks in advance

        1. Hi, I’m afraid I can’t other than you conatact a company similar to Barkston Plastics who can provide you with samples of the acrylic materials they manufacture or stock. Most sign service companies also hold sample ‘chips’ of various acrylics that can be ordered.

  5. With the acrylic sheet the supplier has a couple of choices, they are clear frosted Acrylic or Opal Acrylic sheets which one is best ?

    1. Hi, if it’s for the background then the frosted is better because it has a matt finish which reduces any chance of your lighting being reflected on it. If it’s for lighting a subject as a diffuser then I find the opal better.

      1. Thank you for the reply, can I clarify, for the clear drink bottles with the perspex behind the bottle standing vertically with the light shining through, is frosted or opal better

        1. Hi, the one behind the bottle is frosted which is better because it is matt and therefore it reduces reflections off of the surface back into your camera from your other lighting.

      1. Hi there,
        I’ve been looking for an acrylic sheet here in Germany like the one you use. I’ve found different porcentages of light transmissions and also different colors. Regarding these two things, what do you recomend?

        1. Hi, I get asked this question a lot but I’m afraid I don’t know the transmission values of my acrylic as I have many different types and it never really seems relevant as I just increase or decrease my light source. I have 3mm and 5mm acrylics, some are white opal and some seem more transparent than others and I also have frosted acrylics in 3mm and 5mm and obviously the 3mm lets more light through than the 5mm. I simply adjust my lighting to suit as long as I get a ball of light then it’s good and I use the technique shown in these classes to make the corners a different exposure.

  6. Hi Karl,

    please could you help me choosing the right Plexiglas for this setup?

    I ordered samples and made this short comparison. Hope this may help some of you, too.
    A (left) is “6mm PLEXIGLAS® WH10 DC weiss satiniert, Lichtdurchlässigkeit 70%”
    B (right) is “8mm PLEXIGLAS® satiniert Milchglas”

    I’d say it is the left one (A). 🙂
    Thank you very much for your help!

    best regards,

  7. Hi Karl, bit of advice if I may, you’ve shot clear bottles and also red wine bottles but nothing with white wine bottles which are green and a little see through, any tips and tricks? It’s a pack shot only so needs to be on a white background and perhaps a product shot on white background with a glass of bubbly next to it.

    1. Hi Jason, this is something we’ve been asked about by several other members so I am going to include a new live show on that this year and add it to our schedule.

  8. Could you use a $15 snoot for the label and mask out the excess light in Photoshop if you don’t have a $1500 picolight?

    1. Hi, yes you can in fact in other classes we show using a snoot as an alternative, you can also be clever with your snoots by holding grids in front of them to further reduce the exposure area.

  9. My engineering curious mind is wondering if, there is an advantage to having a concave scrim. Would the wrap around light on the bottle be enhance ?

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