Tricks to photograph lemon cocktails

The summer of 2016 is here and we thought that it would be best to shoot some lemon cocktails. What could be the other best way to kill the heat.

Taking photographs of food and drinks is a skill building challenge. I can never say that I know all about photography. There is always something I learn new. And I would like to document some of my learnings here so all could learn.

Do not mix the actual mocktail.

The real food do not always look best under a camera. So it is necessary to improvise in these situations. The actual mocktails have a very murky look to it which is not very pleasing in front of the camera. The lemon slices that you drop into the glass will not be visible. I wanted lemons to dominate the picture and give it a refreshing look. The look that immediately want the customer to order when they see these pictures in the restaurants menu card. So it is best advised to use clear or sparkling water to make the drink.

Mojito mocktail but made of sparkling water
Mojito mocktail but made of sparkling water

Slice lemons using a very sharp knife.

Your photographs with lemons need to have a fresh look. The tough part of lemon drink photography is actually cutting the lemons to the right thickness. Lemons have a thick skin on the outside and soft flesh on the inside. So when you cut, the lemon will squeeze under pressure bursting the juicy bulbs inside. Lemons go out of shape because of this.

To get perfect big circles of the lemons you can cut only in the center and take two or three slices out of it for use. The rest has to discarded because the diameter will become less and won’t be useful of the photography.

The lemons were cut quickly to retain their shape.
The lemons were cut quickly to retain their shape.

Photoshop the seeds.

Lemons come with seeds and for good reasons to the nature. But its not good news for us photographers. They do not look good in the photos. They spoil the look of the composition and all attention immediately goes to that one seed which is at the corner of the photo. Initially I tried to leave the seeds as is but could not control my OCD. So I removed them with patch tool in Photoshop. Now the pictures look much better.

Details are maintained but the seeds removed.
Details are maintained but the seeds removed.

Try lighting from behind to get the details.

We are able to see because light gets reflected off the objects and reach our eyes. The same works with camera’s too. But in food and drinks photography I have found the best lighting to be the backlight. Take this photo for example. The ‘highlight’ light is placed at 30 degrees behind the subject. This highlights the water giving a sense of how much the glass is full. Also the dark mint leaves are made to look light and accented because of this light. Obviously it is necessary that you keep a fill light in the exact opposite direction with higher flash power. This balances the subject’s exposure.

The details of the mint leaves are highlighted with backlight
The details of the mint leaves are highlighted with backlight

These are some basic observation that I made during this week’s photography session. Please follow me on twitter for more updates. Will share more of my knowledge in the future articles.

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