Tag Archives: brewery

Photographing 52 Beers in a Year

52 Beers Group, Week 8: Brrr, Seasonal Red -- Widmer Brothers Brewing

52 Beers Group, Week 34: Old Boardhead

52 Beers Group, Week 29: Alpha Dog Imperial IPA

52 Beers Group, Week 13: Goudenband, Brouwerij Liefmans

52 Beers Group, Week 31: Lagunitas Hop Stoopid Ale

I don’t think anyone would be surprised that I enjoy beer.   It’s fun to sample, write about, and photograph.  Exactly 44 weeks ago, I joined the 52 Beers group on Flickr.   I don’t write reviews or document my beer intake in any way, but I took this on as a challenge to force myself to come up with new ways at looking at beer by photographing one new beer each week for a year.  To accomplish this, I had to ask myself a few questions: What makes a beer unique?  What makes a bottle or a label stand out?  What does beer mean to me?  What have I gotten myself into?

Taking photographs for fun and taking photographs professionally are two different monsters.  As much as I love photography, it doesn’t mean I want to have a camera in my hand around the clock.  It’s pretty heavy.  Plus, motivation does not strike all day, every day.   If I don’t have any appointments scheduled for the day, it’s fairly easy to watch a DVD, take a nap, and then spend the rest of the afternoon wondering where my day went.  I can admit that. Evidently,  not just to myself,  but to anyone reading this.  I think a lot of people are like me in that respect,  so it’s important to set up challenges and exercises where I can be held accountable.

Well, I’m almost a full year into the project and what did I learn?  Well, I love beer.  I think that was already a fact though, so it doesn’t count.   First, I don’t have an expensive studio with unlimited lighting.  So, some were shot outside, some under random generic lamps, and others under a speedlight.  But lighting, although imperative, was secondary to me for this project.  The overriding element was composition.  Show the beer?  Show the head?  Show the bottle?  Show the glass?  Show the growler?

  • Widmer Brothers Brewing, Brrr:  I got a sample bottle in the mail, but things didn’t come together until I bough a six pack off the shelves.  What typifies “Brrr” more than huddling together?
  • Full Sail Brewing, Old Boardhead: Simple label, complex beer.  I happened to be drinking it when I got a phone call.  When I got back to the beer, late afternoon light had come through the window and lit the beer through the glass.  It was nice, but a flashlight exaggerated the effect and created the shot I wanted: a complex tasting beer that was also complex visually.
  • Laughing Dog, Alpha Dog Imperial IPA: The analog TTV treatment seemed to work with the bottle design and the glass of beer in the background.  I didn’t think about it while I was shooting it, but the lpha Dog is definitely gaurding the beer in the background.  Sometimes, things just come together.
  • Liefman’s Goudenband:  I decided a dyptych would be the best option to show the label from the front as well as the twisted tissue presentation layer.  It’s very unique packaging, and very important ot feature it.
  • Lagunitas’ Hop Stoopid: Not everything has to be planned.  I was playing dominos, drinking Hop Stoopid, and my camera was nearby.  End of story.

Baltic / Imperial Porter Tasting at Upright Brewing

2009.06.13 -- Baltic and Imperial Porter Tasting at Upright Brewing

2009.06.13 -- Baltic and Imperial Porter Tasting at Upright Brewing

2009.06.13 -- Baltic and Imperial Porter Tasting at Upright Brewing

I was asked to attend and photograph a Baltic / Imperial Porter tasting tonight at Upright Brewing.  I don’t mind mixing work with pleasure, especially when it comes to beer, but the physical aspects of holding a glass and shooting photos can be tricky at best.  Couple this with the fact that we are gathering in the basement of a building with uneven lighting and there can be some issues.

I used my 50mm 1.4 for most of the night because of the low light where the taps (and hence, most of the people) were gathered.  I also used my 10-22mm around the brewing equipment where there was much more light available.

It took about two hours to go through the photos tonight with selection and remastering.  Make sure to click on the photos to see the larger versions as the tones and brightness are compressed in the thumbnails to the right.  Great night, awesome beers, and now it’s late and I want to go to sleep.

Astoria Beer Adventure

Astoria Beer Adventure

Astoria Beer Adventure

Astoria Beer Adventure

Astoria Beer Adventure

Last weekend, I had an overnight assignment in Astoria.  And guess what?  Yep, it involved beer.  I was sent out to explore the beer scene in Astoria and meet the movers and shakers, and of course, drink a lot of great beer!

Even though I retired my Canon 50mm 1.4 lens to the studio, I can’t seem to live without it.  A couple of months ago, it was knocked off the players bench at the Rose Garden while shooting a Portland LumberJax training session.  Both auto-focus and the focus ring were broken, but the glass was intact.  So, while the photos turn out fine, I have to manually focus by pulling and pushing the end of the lens in and out!  It’s really not convenient, but I don’t have a replacement for it yet.  For still shots of objects, it’s not a problem.  But when people are involved, it’s hard to capture that spontaneous moment when it takes 7 seconds to pull or push and fumble with a broken lens!  Oh well, glad to have it, even with it’s flaws.

On Saturday, I met with the brewers of Fort George Brewing Company and Astoria Brewing Company–and then proceeded to drink a lot of beer.  From noon to 5:00pm, we drank an assortment of over twenty beers in samples, pints, and goblets.  I’m glad I had a notebook and a camera to document it all, because I will be relying heavily on those to piece together my article.  Usually, I’m not so excited to work on the weekends, but there was no downside to this weekend!

Firkin Fest 2009

Firkin Fest 2009

Firkin Fest 2009

Firkin Fest 2009

It’s not all coincidence that I’m able to mix beer and photography.  It takes careful planning: 1) Find an event, 2) See if someone needs photos for the event, 3) If you can budget in time to photograph and attend the event, even better!  It doesn’t always work out that way, but when it does, it’s great for both you and the client.

Well, the upside for me is pretty self-explanatory: free event.  The upside for the client is that the more I’m involved in the event, the better I can understand what it’s all about–and then translate that into photography.  The perspective of an attendee and photographer can tell two different stories.  It is the job of the photographer to not only capture the spirit of the festival through the eyes of the attendees, but also capture unique angles, subjects, and action that require much more than a casual eye.

For this year’s Firkin Fest, I took photos for the Oregon Brewer’s Guild.  The festival was split into two three hour sessions.  I attended the first session as a photographer and the second as a patron.  But, as a photographer, even when I’m not on duty, I usually carry around my equipment.  So, it’s usually safe to say that whatever label I’m under at any given moment (patron, attendee, employee, student, staff), you can always append /photographer to the end.  Today, the energy was very different at the second session and about half of the final photos ended up coming from the then, when I was supposed to be off the clock.

Laurelwood Public House and Brewery

Laurelwood Public House and Brewery, 51st Ave

Laurelwood Public House and Brewery, 40th Ave

Laurelwood Public House and Brewery, 40th Ave

I took some photos of Laurelwood Public House and Brewery today–all three locations. It’s strange to be inside someplace when no one else is there, especially when you’re used to it being very crowded and loud. It’s also hard taking photos of beer at 9:30 in the morning, knowing that they’ll end up in the drain. Poor, sweet, beer.

But today, I was there to get some interiors, exteriors, and merchandise for the owner. It was really sunny outside today and combined with the dim interiors, the windows were blown out, an effect that I like in most situations. It keeps the focus inside the room, with noething visible outside to distract. I composited some different RAW exposures of the same image to balance out the light a little, but I ended up settling on the single exposures with the blown out windows.