Armagnac and Bordeaux

bottlesI'm not a big drinker, but I've recently received a couple of presents that I'm really looking forward to imbibing.

The first is a bottle of Chateau de Bordes Jacques Morel 1967 vintage Armagnac, a present from Stéphane, whom I met recently in Papua New Guinea.

Stéphane had quite a few problems with his camera that I was able to help get resolved (with the help of ScubaCam and Ai Lin, who was also on the trip) before we headed out to sea on the Golden Dawn. Otherwise, he would've been on an extended liveaboard trip without the use of his camera, which would have been a complete bummer.

I have to admit that I've never had Armagnac, and I had to search the net to learn more. It's the a gorgeous, oak-red colour (bottle on the right), and I'm saving it for the right occasion.

Then just last night, a good friend in Japan who owns the underwater camera shop Aquaforum gave me a bottle of 2003 vintage Bordeaux, Chateau Destieux, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru. Of course, I'm saving this for the right occasion too.

I certainly don't drink a lot these days, but when I do, I only like the good stuff!

Incidentally, taking this photo of the bottles was a fun exercise in experimenting with light too. I wanted a dramatic look, but I don't have the requisite lights, backdrop and studio to shoot a proper product shot.

So I did a bit of improvising. I chose the back of a black leather seat as a backdrop, to create a moody, non-distracting background. I set the bottles on the dark wood floor near the seat. Using a Gorillapod as a tripod, I set my Canon 5D to a 5 second exposure, f11, ISO100, which pretty much eliminated most of the influence from ambient light, since I shot this at night.

After triggering the camera shutter, I held two Sony W300 compact cameras (one in each hand), and half-depressed the shutter buttons to set off the focus-assist lights. I used the warm, soft light to "paint" in light, being careful to hold the compact cameras at a sharp angle to avoid creating too much glare. Finally, I triggered one camera's flash at a sharp angle to fill in a little bit of light in the background and lift the bottles slightly up and away from the black.

The process sounds more difficult than it actually was. The final image isn't catalogue-quality, but it's good enough to create the mood I wanted to achieve in order to show off these very special bottles.