The perfect pint & condensation cold look

If you like beer then hopefully this advertising shot is making you thirsty. If it is then this image has succeeded in its purpose of creating desirability.

But how do you, the photographer, create this desirability? How do you light, craft and shoot the image? How do you get the condensation droplets so perfect? What tricks can you use to make the liquid glow?

In this product photography class Karl covers all of this as he shares some professional photography secrets, guiding you through the preparation and lighting for the shot.

Class objectives:

  • How to photograph bottles and glasses
  • Creating perfect condensation for bottle photography
  • Lighting setups for reflective items
  • How to control reflections on glass
  • Creating gradient lighting
  • Using colour checker cards to ensure colour accurate images

You can also learn how to retouch product images like this in our full pint retouching tutorial.

Other relevant classes you may be interested in include:

If you have any questions about this class please post in the comment section below.

NOTE: This class is available with English subtitles and automatic translations.


  1. Hello Karl, beautiful lighting. Just a tip I want to share with you. To get the head, stir the beer with a wooden chop stick. The enzymes in the wood made the foam pop in a very controlled manner

  2. Hi Karl, I have question about product photography .Could you explain please, which composition and What angle should we use for them?

    1. Hi, that is covered in many of our other product classes and product live shows but generally we shoot products from low down to make them look more powerful, the composition of the subject depends on what attributes the subject has to offer.

  3. Couple of questions on little points.
    When you sprayed the glass, in essence you chose a front side and only sprayed the front? It kind of looked like that. I assume it does you no favours to have the whole thing sprayed. And basically you spray a day ahead it sounded like.

    Also, say you only plan to fill the glass part way, as in some forms of cocktails that may have a garnish or just space below the rim to spare.. Do you just block the spray by masking it in some manner? Creating a paper crown over the rim and top of the glass.. for while you are spraying?

    Lastly, white wine.. chilled before drinking.. working from memory in my thoughts.. I don’t think the condensation is as beaded.. but I am going to test out a glass to make sure .. are there other types of condensation that you try to imitate? And any helpful hints..

    1. Hi Gary, Yes only the front sprayed as not really visible at the back and adding additional droplets there will just create more image confusion at the front (see the image of the Ale on my ‘Objects’ page it’s next to two lipsticks’ You can spray an hour ahead is enough for the first part to dry, if you want the beads of condensation set solid though then yes a day will do it. I think I only mention about not filling to the brim so you can create the ‘head’ on the beer as the last stage. I’ve not deliberately avoided spraying the condensation effect near the rim as I remember but I think I did show in another video maybe how to use a piece of card on a stick to avoid getting to much on beer labels. Yes real condensation looks much flatter and not always that good photographically, some photographers use it, the other alternative though is if you don’t want your condensation to look as ‘beaded’ then just omit the first stage prep that’s done to the glass.

      1. Locally we have an artist supply outlet where I found several different types of artist spray varnish. I picked up two different kinds to test out on a glass. I just sprayed it right side – left side.. to see what I get. In one of your videos, you suggested a gloss spray, while on this video I believe you just said artist spray. Now they didn’t explicitly have a gloss spray, which makes sense from an artist’s perspective – preserving the original look of your painting – but I did get a Winsor & Newton “Professional” satin varnish traditional spray and a Krylon Kamar Varnish, which is a newer formulation which is apparently a bit more environmental. I’m in Canada, so our brands may not be the same as the UK or anywhere else for that matter, but I was curious what you used on the Absolut Vodka clear glass bottle.

        The satin, as a spray looks like a bit more frosted as a finish.. which would work well on any kind of frosted bottle, but I’m a little wary to use it on a crystal clear bottle. Once dry, it looks like a frosty cold glass pulled out of the freezer.

        The other spray looks more smooth, but has changed the glass surface a little to be a touch duller than original. I will put a few more coats on to make sure the surface is completely covered. If not covered completely, it looks a little like a spray paint (clear) incomplete coating.. slightly splotchy.

        So once again the question.. do I need a glossy spray to achieve the best look on a bottle that is crystal clear?

        1. Hi Gary, there are three types of varnish in my experience. Gloss, Matt and Satin which is inbetween. I’ve used them all and they all seem to work but yes the gloss will obviously look more like clear glass but if that is important or not is debatable after covering it with the condensation as it becomes mostly obscured at that level of detail.

          1. Hi Karl,
            has it to be varnish or would hairspray do the same job and why if not?
            Greetings from Germany.

          2. Hi AP, I’ve heard that hairspray works but I’ve never tried it. As with all these things the best thing to do is try.

  4. Thanks for another great tutorial Karl!
    For me – the biggest takeaway here is that thin metal sheet kept in the front. Takes care of so many issues when table set-up is large and lights can’t be brought close enough for continuous highlight.

    Could you please share more details of the sheet – Polished metal sheet.. is it made of stainless steel?

      1. Thanks, Karl. Would surely give it a try.
        Though I am in love with this polished SS sheet idea 🙂

        (acrylic mirror sheets have thickness and tend to scratch a lot)

  5. Another great tutorial. If looking to doo the condensation on a can of beer do you need the base layer first? or is that just for glass?

    1. Hi McManne, that would be just for the glass. The can should have enough texture for them to form properly.

  6. Hi Karl,

    Came back to watch this again. If you make the glucose/water mix and put it in a spray bottle, will it spoil, or can you leave it in there and use it over and over again?


    1. Hi, dulling spray can work but it’s a bit greasy to work with. If it’s flat glass then you can by frosted stick on material from sign service companies. Hair spray might be another option if you’re talking about a round glass or bottle.

  7. Hi, Karl!

    I was wondering if you have any suggestions as to where I might find the gray reflective surface? I’m in the states. Is it perhaps also called PVC?

    Thank you,


    1. Hi Alison. Yes that grey one was PVC and most of the others we use are acrylic (called Makralon or Plexiglass in the states). All of them should be available from companies that make signs for buildings or plastic suppliers.

  8. Really fantastic… thank you

  9. Hi Karl, Can you share your photo shoot tutorial,cut apple cider bottle with half cut apple inside
    behind you in this tutorial

    1. Hi Anish, that shoot wasn’t filmed as a tutorial, it was shoot for a client that wasn’t filmed at the time.

  10. Hello Karl, I got the stuff as you recommended, and its really great, the only problem Im getting its that Im getting very tiny “condensation” particles or drops on the bottles or glasses. I haven’t tried another spray bottle for the mix, but is there any Tip for making those bigger?

  11. Hi Karl,
    I really love your tutorials, i have learnt a lot over the past few weeks. One question though, in taking pictures of drinks and wanting to give that droplet feel on the glass, are there any other recommendations aside from Corn Syrup/Liquid glucose? I can’t seem to find those product in my locality. I saw a golden syrup though, not sure if it’ll work but i would like to have any other recommendations you have. Thanks

  12. Hi Karl…really enjoyed this tutorial. I have a couple questions:
    1. You mentioned 2 parts warm water…how many parts the other stuff?
    2. Once you have sprayed the varnish, do you need to wait for it to completely dry before you spray the glucose/water mix?

    Thank you

    1. Hi this is just a rough guide but it I found anywhere from 60% water to 40% water works but it depends on the spray bottle you are using and how good the nozzle is, sometimes they get clogged up which is why I prefer to use warm water. The varnish must be dry and then.

  13. Once the mix has been applied, will it dry hard on the glass?

      1. Thank you Karl!
        I did it and looks very real, a bit messy first time but next time I will know better 🙂

  14. Ha hah ha its as if this is also a cooking tutorial…….. wonderful love your energy Karl.
    I have tried to duplicate the droplets using a Corn Syrup instead of Liquid Glucose, not sure of the difference between the two, but, the droplets are not solidifying like yours, and it has been just under 24 hours. How long did it take your droplets to harden before the bottle could be handled? Thank you for your time Chef

    1. Hi Gerry, corn syrup should be the same. Try reducing the water percentage of your mix and make sure you treat the glass first as described in the video.

  15. Hi Karl
    I’m about to shot a beer bottle.
    I bought Krylon UV Resistant clear acrylic coating (MATT) from the art store.
    I now see that I shouldn’t have bought the UV resistant matt.
    Will there be a difference?
    I have been told not to use fixative on beer bottles.

  16. Some of those Grolsch cans look empty before you poured for the shot. Did you perhaps test the freshness of the beer before filming? Ha! Cheers!

  17. Hi Karl,
    Is there any section throughout the programme where you explain a little bit more in detail what you are actually doing in this tutorial at the moment 11.00 and onwards, when you are taking the precise white balance?

  18. Hi, Carle, I’d like to know what’s the name of the spray paint you use? I also want to know the sign of the glucose?

  19. Hi Karl, thank you for sharing this solution but I can’t find the liquid for the fake droplet from local market. What is product name on the label ?

    tks and happy new year.

  20. Hi Karl, no your answer is great! Just wanted to see if you were aware of any laws that I wasn’t privy to, in which I could be sued for doing so whilst being completely unaware. Lol. Thanks for replying!

  21. Hi Karl, new to the channel and loving it! Great work all-round. Quick question for you, what are the legalities of taking product shots (with branding) and putting them up on your site or in your portfolio? Do you need to obscure the branding? For example, if you have a Jack Daniel’s whiskey bottle, are you safe if you have it angled to the side with part of the branding showing, or do you need to remove it completely from the shot? Thanks, Karl. Kyle

    1. Hi Kyle, this is a common question and there is no firm answer i’m afraid. Some brands will allow photographers who produce good work to shoot their brands and publish as long as it is not detrimental to their brand as it’s just extra publicity but other brands may not like the work and could request it be removed. But lots of photographers do shoot brands for test shots and portfolio work so it’s really up to you to decide. Sorry I can’t be more specific on this one.

  22. Hi Karl, brilliant video as usual. I actually have this one on your advertising photography DVD, but still great to see again, in fact this is probably the 10th time I have watched it 🙂
    You use a five light setup on this shoot. If you only had 4 lights, which one would you lose, and why please?

    1. Hi Kevin, thanks for your business over the years and I’m sure you are going to enjoy a lot of the new stuff here on KTE. Have you checked out the first 15 theoretical chapters on LightSource in the portrait section, these are going down really well even with those interested in the product photography stuff. We have loot of new stuff coming soon as well as the live shows too. In answer to your question then I think could loose the overhead fill light and replace with some white foam board over the top of the softboxes if necessary. Cheers Karl.

  23. Hi Karl

    What could you recommend for software to use with the colour checker for Canon shooters ( as opposed to Hasselblad’s “Phocus” software?

    1. Hi Alan, You can use Lightroom or Capture One. Both of these software have the ability to measure colour values and neutralise.

  24. Hi, Karl Taylor when you apply the varnish on the glass how long do you wait before mixing and putting the liquid glucose ?

  25. as you said it will harden after being dry. is it removable after it gets dry. I don’t want my mom after me for ruining the glass 🙂

  26. Karl… I am new here.

    I notice on a number of the Product Shot videos I have reviewed so far, that with your Hasselblad you seem to use a faster shutter speed (say 1/350 o 1/500) than what the sync speeds are on say a Canon DSLR.

    If I am trying to shoot similar shots with a Canon 5D MkIV with a flash sync-speed limitation of 1/200 sec. how would those shots differ? Maybe in not being able to freeze action of bubbles rising in liquid as well? Any other downsides other than final resolution?

    Awesome videos BTW – as addictive as Game of Thrones!

    1. Hi John, the shutter sync speed has no bearing on ‘freezing’ stuff as that is done by the flash. The only thing you need to worry about with the sync speed is that it is fast enough to cut out the ‘modelling’ lamps or ambient light. You will learn more on this in the course ‘Light Source’ in the portrait section. Cheers Karl.

    1. the one we have doesn’t specify whether its water based or solvent free, it says ‘Artists Clear Picture Varnish – For Oil Colour’ the make of ours is Daler – Rowney in a spray bottle but I’m sure any clear artists varnish for oil would work in the same way, hope this helps

  27. Hi Karl, im know doing an amazon order for bits to have a try at this, the artists varnish do you use water based or solvent free?


  28. Hi Karl, will glycerine and water mix + the varnish give the same results? thats’ currently what I use, but doesn’t harden as you mentioned with glucose. Regarding the shot, i’d like to see a more cylindrical shape as the final results but the drops and condensation looks great. Thanks!

    1. Hi Matteo, no this mix is much better, glycerin doesn’t really do the job, I only use that in food photography.

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