Storytime 47

moody red wine abstract, maybe
I can’t remember the exact reason behind this image (which is a great way to start a story, doncha think?) but I know it was for a photo challenge. Was it Low Light? Alcoholism? Weak Construction? I dunno, something.

I do remember staging this carefully, though granted this was not an hours-long process – more like twenty minutes or so all told. I picked a bare spot at the end of the counter and set up my three items, adjusting the tripod carefully to bring it together. Take a moment to drink it all in (A ha ha ha ha ha ha! Did you get that?) before we proceed.

“Wait, three items?” you asked if you were on top of things, or “Oh, yes, of course three items,” if you were even more on top of things, because there’s a candle positioned behind the wine glass, the sole light source but also the item that’s giving the wine glass its particular look, and visibly reflected in the bottle. The candle flame itself didn’t quite work if it shone directly through the glass, so the camera was positioned to lose the flame in the distortion at the top of the wine level, while the candle body gives the glass a geometric highlight. The base of the candle can still be seen, but it’s so subtle that it easily escapes attention. The wine bottle was positioned carefully not only to offset the glass in the frame, but also to distance its shadow a little more – too close and it had this looming presence over the bottle.

If you were really sharp, you might have noticed that it’s a bottle of white wine, so not matched at all to the glass. And this last bit I don’t really expect anyone to have figured out, but it’s not wine in the glass anyway – I think it’s root beer, vigorously stirred to lose all carbonation and watered down to bring the color to the ‘appropriate’ hue. The focus on the glass rather than the bottle subtly communicates that the specific wine is unimportant. Overall of course, the idea was to produce a mellow vibe – more than a bit trite, and you know how I feel about alcohol, but also recognizable among the majority of people.

I don’t even need to point out that the top of the glass and the wine level indicate that the counter isn’t very level – everyone spotted that right off, I’m sure…

Now, a slightly more serious moment, and I do apologize and will be back to frivolous and trivial commentary soon. While the photo has a bare minimum of factors within it, there’s one that most often escapes attention yet still has a role in how the image looks, and that’s the highlight on the back wall. This one came simply from the flame peeking over the lip of the candle, but product photographers often shape and position these with extreme care, because that glow or halo can draw more attention in particular directions, as well as giving a better ‘feel’ to the key subject, whether that’s a more pleasing color tone or more distinctive shaping or what have you. In this case it almost indicates a warm glow above the glass, certainly directing our attention more there than to the wine bottle (which is far too indistinct for an advertisement, certainly.) But might it have been better if the glow centered more on the bowl of the glass? Can the color of the glow itself be more appealing? These kinds of things are carefully studied in advertising, and even though they may produce only a 0.01% increase in sales through subtle manipulation, that’s still an increase. Personally, I feel that most of this is overblown; people might like one photo better than another, but the number of people that are affected enough to be influenced in their buying decisions is, I suspect, a hell of a lot less than imagined. But some people actually make their money by convincing others that their input is valuable.