How a Cloud Tank Can Help You Create Stunning Product Images

You might have just read that title and wondered what a "cloud tank" is. Check out this great video that'll show you how you can create stunning product shots using a little at-home ingenuity.

Coming to you from Max Bridge of Square Mountain, this awesome video will show you how to create a "cloud tank" for product photography. The idea is both simple and clever: you place the product in a tank of water and then inject the water with evaporated milk that you've colored using food coloring, and as the milk disperses, it envelops the product with beautiful clouds. Of course, there are a few considerations you'll need to take into account, but altogether, it's a very fun technique, especially since you get different results every time, so be prepared to use multiple images to composite together the final shot. As Bridge mentions, be sure to keep shooting for longer than you think you need to, as the milk will take a bit to completely disperse and you'll get a wide range of shots. You can experiment in several ways, changing the colors, using multiple colors at once, creating a slight current before injecting the milk, and more. Give it a try! 

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I do this kind of work all the time. There's a lot that can be done with it and takes some trial error and patience.

some of it can be found at

Cool effect. Just don't understand how it adds to the story of the bottle...

Max Bridge's picture

Great comment and an important point!

It's all well and good doing special effects photography but if it adds little to the overall image then what's the point? There's always the argument of simply making an interesting image to attract the viewer, however, I personally prefer to have some meaning behind it. In this instance, I was thinking about the characteristics of the drink itself, specifically being a light and somewhat delicate drink, I felt that the clouds fit in that regard. I also thought the clouds would represent the liquid inside the bottle. Almost as though we were seeing it mix with the liquid surrounding it. All in all, I think the aesthetic suits the brand, despite being quite different to their usual imagery.

Max Bridge's picture

Thanks for sharing Alex! I hope everyone enjoys the video.

I don't usually upload unfinished images but seeing as you shared the video I thought people may want to see one of the photos. It has been edited but I normally like to sit on things for a little while, come back to it a few days later and make additional changes; things usually jump out at me on the 2nd or 3rd viewing.

Anyway here's one of the shots.

Studio 403's picture

I like your ideas, like to try this, How do you keep reflextions from lights off target image ?

jeff hanson's picture

looks like he has the giant white panels to help diffuse light and keep glare/reflections to a minimum. i would love to see a wide shot of the room to confirm that though.

The strobe won't be pointed at the tank. Google the term "dark field lighting" and you'll get a basic idea of the setup that it looks like he is using.

In a nutshell, you have a the light behind your background and you use reflectors on the sides that direct the light more diffusely to the edges. It looks like he's also added a white bounce card around the lens of the camera to help fill in the light at the front. The technique is pretty classic and great for lighting highly reflective subjects.

In any event, this looks like a lot of fun!