Join Bill Robbins for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating a chill effect, part of Learning Food and Drink Photography.
In this movie, let's look at how you can create your very own real-looking chill. So what I have here is an example of the chill effect that we are going to create in this movie. We're working with bottles from Island Brewery, a great local Brewery in Carpinteria, California. So the first question you might ask yourself is, well, why do you need to create chill? Can't I just pull it out of the refrigerator and shoot it? You can do that, but you better be quick, because the chilled look will go away within a few minutes.
What we want to do is create a situation where we can take our time and then light, compose, and tweak. We can do that, with a few easy steps, by creating different layers that will give us the chill look. So what it does, in essence, is gives you a lot more control. All right! So let's get started. So first let's take our bottle. We're going to do a little prep work actually when we go to pick up the bottles at the store. We want to find bottles that the label is on straight, and we also want to look for the glass seam that happens on every bottle and try and find the seam where it runs down the side of the bottles as opposed down through the center of the label.
Okay, so that's our first thing that we want to look at. Now the first layer that we are going to do is going to give us the frosted effect that comes right out of the refrigerator. So I am going to use, to begin with, on our bottle, some surf wax, and I am just going to apply it, and we want to use cold-water surf wax, which I found to work really well. So we are going to just put a little bit on here and then the next stage -- and I would do the whole bottle--the next stage is we'd rub this in using our body temperature to help smooth it out, and you can see, that starts to give us a really nice frosted look.
Now, I have one over here that I am going to bring in, that I've done that whole process on, and you can see how good that looks. That looks like it just got pulled out of the refrigerator. So we're going to come back to this in a minute. First, let's talk about another way of creating a frosted look. And on the glass, I am going to use some dulling spray. So we can use dulling spray or matte spray. One of the first things we want to do in prep, you'll notice, is put on some masking tape where I'm figuring the head of the beer is going to be, because we wouldn't have the condensation up there when we do the pour.
So first I put the can in a little lukewarm water to help refine the spray as it comes out, it will be a finer spray, and we don't want big globby spray on our glass. So part of the technique of this is to keep everything moving as we spray. And we are constantly moving the glass, we are moving the spray, and we don't want to bring this too close because that will give us that clumpy look. I think we've got a pretty good layer down there, and we'll put this on here so you can take a look.
I think that looks really pretty nice. All right! Let's go to our second stage, and I am going to come back to our bottle of beer. And the second stage that we want to do is add water droplets to this. So I've got two different ways of doing that. The first one that we are going to look at is with this small atomizer, and again, these come in different sizes. The different sizes are going to give you different-sized droplets. So our first solution that I have in here is Karo syrup mixed with water. I use probably anywhere from a 15% to 20% mixture of Karo to water.
You have to be sort of careful an experiment with this depending upon the size of the atomizer because the Karo can clog up the nozzle if you use too much of it. The advantage of the Karo syrup is that when it goes on the bottle, or any other surface, the water is going to evaporate and leave you the Karo droplets, which look like water. So, make sure that you get the clear Karo syrup and we'll spray. Again, the spray technique you can play with, and you'll find that if you bring this in really close, you are going to get some bigger drops; if you pull it back, you get a little finer drop.
So we've got a really nice surface going there, and you can see how genuine that looks. Let's go to our glass. We'll set this over here, bring our glass out, and we want to hold the glass by the inside. In this mixture, I am going to be using glycerine. Now, glycerine and water mixed at a 50-50 relationship--and it's the same thing, you don't want to put too much glycerine in with the water or it will clog the nozzle. So, it's just an alternative to the Karo.
Again, we are going to spray in tight. You can see the droplets are a little bit bigger. If I pull this back, they are going to be a little bit finer. So you can sort of play with how you want this to be. So that's what that looks like. Let's go to our next stage. We're going to use something called crystal ice. So, crystal ice we are going to put on the surface of this to enhance that chilled look. This is a commercial product that's sold by Trengove Studios in Chicago.
So let me just take a little bit of this, and we'll just place it onto our glass. And we don't want quite too much. You have to be careful that we don't smudge the surface that we've sprayed on, but you get a nice look with the crystal ice. Let's go over here, and we'll do the same thing with the bottle of beer, add on the crystal ice, and we are just going to place a few ice chips in the strategic spots.
Okay, so you can see that it starts to look nice and chilled. You can even put some up here on the cap, along the neck--gives us a really nice look. So our last layer is to create a run, a droplet run, going down the front or the side surface, and we are going to do that with another commercial product called Aqua Gel. Aqua Gel is also distributed by Trengove Studios in Chicago. So the technique with this is going to take a few times of practice, but we're using a wooden skewer. We dip into this Aqua Gel, which is a really thick gel and will not run.
So we are going to actually create the run. So we are going to start down here at the bottom and as we bring this up, we are going to twist and move this around a little bit to make it as real as possible, because a droplet wouldn't necessarily go down in a straight path. You can see down here that that looks really very real, how the run goes down the surface of the bottle. Okay, let's bring in the glass and we'll do the same thing. And we are going to create that run going down the glass.
Now, you want to be also planning, by looking through your viewfinder, where you want this run to happen. I found that the side, like where I have it here, or right down the center, gives a really nice effect to the camera, and you can see how nice that looks. That's just going to stay there. All right! So there you have it. That's how you would create an artificial chill effect so you can have bottles and glasses that look like they are ice cold in front of your camera for hours.
- Understanding what makes a food photo appetizing
- Comparing emotional and graphic compositional styles
- Choosing the right camera
- Evaluating lens options
- Choosing light reflectors
- Finding creative backgrounds
- Creating specular and diffuse lighting setups
- Creating different looks for each dish
- Creating a chill effect for drinks
- Shooting on location at a restaurant
- Editing photos