Making the Perfect Shot of Whiskey (Photo That Is)

Making the Perfect Shot of Whiskey (Photo That Is)

Patric Bergkvist is making a strong case as one of the better Swedish liquid photographers with his fantastic handle on the ideal lighting in very humble shooting spaces. We featured his exploding coffee and milk photo tutorial in early February and now he is back showing how to make a perfect shot of Whiskey. Photo that is.

"I don't have access to a studio or a big garage or anything like that, so all of my shots are made at home. When I do tabletop photography without any liquid splashes I mostly do it in my living-room. However, when I go crazy and photograph splashes I have to move down a floor level into the hallway. Because of this I'm always in a hurry when I decide to make a shoot. I do this after coming home from my job (this is only a hobbyso far...), and always after my kids have gone to sleep. The time it takes me, from the moment my kids go to sleep to me having cleaned everything up, is usually around 3-4 hours. If I don't get the shot exactly as I want it during that time, I have to tear down the set and put it up again the next day in the same manner. Not optimal, but shame on the one that gives up!"

That just goes to show, you can create great imagery no matter what the situation!

Gear used for this shoot:


Below are some of the setup shots:



Below are the three shots he used to build the final image:



And the final shot, composited from a technique Bergkvist learned from Tim over at

24 (and above NR 1)


I urge you to read the entire how-to on, because Bergkvist goes into extreme detail on how he makes the final image. I'm really impressed given the shooting situation and the fact that Bergkvist doesn't do this for a living.

Show your support for Bergkvist by connecting with him:
Homepage / blog:

All images used and reposted with permission.

Log in or register to post comments


US Flag is being hung backwards, stars go on the left. 

In his post on his blog, he mentions that the flag is blanket he is using to block a mirror.

 important stuff, jay...

Nothing like catching the minuscule while ignoring the actual article  

I actually read the article, and some would saw that seeing the minor details in things is actually a blessing, not a curse.

The flag is correct, the stars are in the upper left corner. It's hanging downward.


You do know your left from right don't you?

the highlights (near middle of glass) are way off here and distracting . . . as is the bottom of the glass with those white 'blobs' at the base. Lastly, the liquid is way too saturated and with whiskey/cognac/brandy you do not want to play around with deeper hues, and instead let the mellow amber colour stand out for a fresher looking shot . . I understand the contrast and the colour, but all those things I mentioned, make this anything but the "perfect shot of whiskey (photo that is)"

As a potential consumer, I find this image inviting, warm, and ready to drink. I was not at all distracted by any of the things you mentioned.

I get where your coming from as a photographer, but if this were a commercial photo, it would not be meant for photographers to analyze for "perfect" lighting and color. It would be meant to evoke emotion.

You've certainly found a lot to nitpick about. Please, make a better shot. 

It looks like a US flag rug. LOL. Bet he walks all over our flag. hahaha

Actually, it's a blanket. We're using them to keep warm up here in the cold North ;)

I really like the final shot and don't care about highlights and saturation. Shot should be tempting to costumer and I would drink this, so photographer did a good job.

 Many people just want to talk here and usually they criticize other people work, but in my personal opinion 99% of them can't replicate any of this. It is really idiotic because every day there are more and more users like this on fstoppers... or better to say on every photo site...

hey guys, it's not really about "nitpicking". . . I simply know that if the shot is for a magazine (as they usually are for this type of photography), then you need to get rid of that awkward highlight in the mid glass. Also, I know that if this were to have been a commission from the manufacturer for their whiskey product, they WOULD NOT want you to over saturate their already wonderful amber colour   . . think about if this were a 12 year old whiskey from the Balvenie ( It would not get accepted. LAstly, it IS TOO darkm especially near the base . . . . they are not drinking maple syrup, btw.

There is a specific set up to get things done right, and get the right highlights, and have less work to do in post . . so, if you are going to post about the "perfect shot" I would hope that when it isn't, people won't get offended at the critiques . . if so let those very same people try moving to Iran and critiquing the government there to see the difference.

I am currently commissioned to do some cocktail drink shots, and I will be more than happy to share the set-up and results with you fine folks here . . . just easy on the offensive feelings due to some critique for the greater good of photography, and photographers ;-) 

@Domagoj Borscak

So, as a photography blog/website, when somebody posts an image and set
up and final results, we are not allowed to critique it . . and maybe
that photographer would not want any critique??? SO we are just to say,
"Oh I love it!" or "hey I don't like it" or "I would've liked a
different look, not so saturated and dark with those odd highlights."

^make your pick then, and I'll sit back like a zombie on this discussion
board, with some people too lazy to critique and better the final
result, who instead want to disrupt a perfectly good discussion of ideas
. . . if no ideas allowed, then why post the other result examples for
an opinionated idea of which is THE best shot, and by the title saying
that it IS the "PERFECT" shot . . . .realize the situation and the title
before you try to bring down those that actually have a brain and use
it for good instead of offense.Sorry to be doing this on a "photo site"

Maybe you should take a look at this ad for Jack Daniels

You might want to consider telling them that their images are "too dark" and that the reflections in the glasses they put their product in are "too distracting".  It seems to me with images like that they are sure to never sell their product!
Get off your high horse already.  Some people just love to troll...

Michael Kormos's picture

I think what Valentino was trying to say is that from the standpoint of the client (be it commercial, editorial, etc.), it's not entirely up to the photographer (in fact, it rarely is) to decide how the final art should look.  If the drink is being marketed to an affluent senior male, it will carry the undertones, hues and tonality that go along with the overall campaign.  On the other hand, if the drink is marketed to adventurous youth, its campaign, and how the drink is photographed will reflect the aesthetic needs of the art director, who (just like in movie making) directs the photographer to produce the desired result.
There is no "perfect" way to light whisky.

For what it's worth, as a single-malt man myself, I think the photo is nice, but it doesn't really make me want to have a glass.  Just my 2 cents.


How is THAT image of Jack Daniels supposed to be the same type of image as the one pictured in this blog!? You obviously do not understand the different type of photography, or you would stop acting like a ignoraminus maximus. The Jack Daniels image is from a bar setting and ina bar there is dim lighting, so it is to convey that atmosphere . . . As you can see there is a shadow on the glass of the Daniels image, BUT you can also see the actual colour of the whiskey as it reflects the WOOD's deep tones . . it's supposed to show a whole different mood via such a setting . . the image of the fstoppers article shows a deep oversatruated liquid that does not come from the idea of "OAK", etc. . . and you can also see a dark halo on the fstoppers image around the glass, and NOT in the jack daniels version. The jack Daniels version actually makes sense even with the LEATHER boarder . . what it is about Jack Daniels: leathery OAK finish on the palate, in a dim bar setting that gives that dark shadow on the glass, too.

Nice try with the "high horse" irrelevant and wasted comment. Making me explain myself over and over again, with these dumb examples that pop up makes me look like a negative nancy, dude! Take a chill pill, or whatever the hell you take nowadays. Either way, I came with peace and I leave in peace. . . Don;t try to grow a brain and use images that you have no clue about marketing and style, with me. It won;t work, becasue I won;t fall to your negativity . . . and you call me a troll??? All I did was -post based on the "perfect whiskey shot" statement. . . . it is NOT perfect. Stop making such claims if you do not want CONSTRUCTIVE sriticism on this board . . . I venture to say that the administrators/owners do want consatructive criticism . . . it's less of people with your mindset that this forum needs less of. . . . with all due respect, because I know you are probably a better understanding person than what you write on this board . . so try to understand that we are not all flickr " my better is better than your better" posters here with those over processed HDRs and who trhen feel they are capable of having a technical conversation with somebody who actually understands images and marketing. END.

I need to add something to my last post directly above^:

Sometimes when I speak of photography I just go right to it and point out things, forgetting that some innocent enough people can't see your expressions while typing and think of someone as a "high horse" type jerk. Well it might seem that way when someone critiques an image, but do not get offended because it is for the greater good of photography. The title of this thread demands critique. There are no bad apples here . . you can speak liberally as long as you do not accuse and call names and judge people based on a critique . . think about that.

Let me clarify <strong>my problem</strong> with your original comment: You spoke as if you are the client/creative director. You are not. The creative director of this shot was the photographer. You can critique, but you cannot speak as if your opinion were the declarative authority without getting backlash. Your personal preferences are just that— preferences— and your tone should reflect that. Simply adding "For my taste" or "If I were to do this" before you begin your critique would take care of that. There are very few rules in photography and a "good" critique makes clear whether you are addressing rules/conventions or preferences.

Also, good critiques include positive remarks.

You have also confused critiquing the author/editor of the website with that of critiquing the photographer. The photographer (an amateur) never said that his image was perfect. Your overwhelmingly negative critique of his photo to prove it was not perfect (and, by my reading of your critique, you were smarter/better than him and the fstoppers staff) unnecessarily dogged a very good (but not perfect) image.

What the fuck do I have to be positive about!? Obviously somebody that titles something "perfect whiskey shot" commands more pressing issues than posting something positive or negative . . I post constructive criticism. If anyone here doesn't like that, then change the goddamn title, or don't start hating when people respond ON A FRIKIN DISCUSSION BOARD!

I am not here to post positive or negative. I'm not your average goddamn 'nanny.' I don;t like anything about the whiskey glass image. It's as generic as hell. So the person that posted such a title has an odd sense of humor. . .  props to the person that took the photo, he can only get better, or hopefully he would be gracious enough to post here and see my points, and we can have abetter discussion, because I can;t stand when people that have no clue as to what they are talking about start attacking others, who simply point a few things out that are obvious. Once again, look at that vertical highlight on the glass, and tell me that it is not distracting . . or that the whole image defeats the purpose of a mellow, smooth whiskey beverage. If I do not like it, I am not going to tell little white lies. Change the damn title, otherwise.

James's picture

Nope, I don't find it distracting at all. Barely even noticed it.

Are you okay? You seemed a little riled by the criticism you're getting. Seems a little unhealthy.... and hypocritical.

P.S. Bravo, if you are just trolling. It is brilliant.

 What's funny is that you call it criticism, and you think I am upset because I can't take criticism . . . oh, you've got to be the head Sherlock here!

btw, if you didn't notice it . . .fine. You are real asset to this 'discussion.' I don't think you are sure of anything.

 For your info, Sherlock, I did not leave once I wasn't "anonymous" anymore . . . I was listed as ValentinoAntonio, btw. I left Disqus because I do not want to have anything more to do with this site.

If you read all my messages, you would see that I was clear about making some points simply due to the title of this thread . . . I also told one of the other posters that I could learn from him. I am not you or what you think. . .

Like I said though, this site is way full of people that do not know what they are talking about, and rude. My images speak for themselves, I am not the best, by far, and nor do I pretend to be. My images speak for themselves. Now I am leaving again . ..  just came to make a point on account of your idiocy . . but you are also probably another good person  . . you are just confused about things.

oh this valentino guy is realy bad.. all his photos suck.
never heard of composition that guy....

Are you fucking kidding me? This is horrible! The guy obviously don't know anything about lightning...

I would love to see your superior work! Please post a link.

I'm no pro photographer yet, but I still understand family of angles and how to lighten glass and metal. Since I don't have my whisky glass out ('cause I'm currently working on it) Here's a Jack bottle.

Jack Daniels

check back in a few days and the whisky glass should be up.

Your photo is no better (worse actually).  You cut off the 2 on the seal and your shot looks out of focus.  Judging from the rest of your photos you are not terrible photographer.  You have a reasonable mount of talent and potential, however, you are in no position to give a non-constructive critique of another's work.