After and Before Forum; Valentine’s Day

The After and Before forum is organised by Stacy Fischer, it is a place where amateurs as well as seasoned photographers explain the wow and how about their photo and editing decision.You can read more here about how to take part.

Last week I shared a picture of a wine glass with the “wine” inside splashing out of the glass. I also shared a rough guide on how to take such a photo quite easily and simply in your own home with nothing more than one light source a camera and some card (it is so simple my 13 year old student did it this week with my supervision and he got some great shots).



I was sat at home thinking, what could I do that is special for Valentine’s Day?  Then it hit me how about some more splashes and wine.
The original Idea I had for the picture was two splashes coming together as if thrown from two glasses.

The set up was fairly similar to what I did last week, this week though I needed a bigger splash and I would need a larger background. I taped white card to my Ikea bookshelf to give myself a white background. I set my speedlite onto a tripod pointing towards the card and my camera a bit further back. I also attached my wireless cable release so I wouldn’t need someone else to take the picture or throw my wine. I also placed a plastic tarp on the floor and furniture of my lounge where I was taking these pictures.

To take the photo is a two-step process; first you have to focus on the, glass switch the lens to manual focus and photograph the stem of the glass. Next you fill the glass with “wine” and flick the glass spilling the “wine” while taking a picture at the same time. It will take a while to get some shots you like. I was doing this for about 30 minutes.

Once I had taken enough pictures and had some keepers I moved onto Photoshop where the picture would be created.


For the image of the glass and the splash I took one photo of the stem and one of the splash. They were both opened in Photoshop. I added a levels adjustment to both using the highlight eyedropper to set the white point to clip the whites. This is important as it will give you a white background that will easily blend.

I created a new document filled the background layer with white. I went back to my splash and stem pictures and selected only the stem and glass/splash and pasted them into the new document.


I aligned the stem and glass and set the blending to multiply. Multiply subtracts highlights from the layer when blending so removes the white in the layer. I then added masks to smoothly blend the images together.


Since the original idea was to have two glasses splashing, I followed the above steps with my second splash picture.

Both glass composites were put in their own group to keep the layers organised.


I duplicated and merge down the groups to single layers as single layers are easier to work with. I kept the groups just in case I needed them later. While trying to get the composition of my original idea to work, I placed the two splashes over each other and really liked the effect. I decided to change my idea slightly and added masks to each layer to blend them together.


I then used the Clone and Heal tool to clean up the image a little, removing spectacle highlights and strange dots from the glass and splash.


I selected all the layers and merged them into a single smart object. I did this so I could go back and make minor adjustments later if needed. I applied Niksoft define and the blur reduction filter to tighten up the image.


For me the red was too red. I added a hue and saturation adjustment layer to adjusted the hue; shifting the hue to a bit more of a purple red, reducing the saturation and increasing the lightness slightly. The adjustment layer was then set to saturation.


Still playing with the colours I increased the vibrance to +74 and reduced the saturation slightly. The idea here was to try and get more definition in the tones. The blending for this adjustment layer was set to saturation with this layer as well. The difference is really slight but for me it is worth it.


The last step was just to darken the tones overall with a curves adjustment layer.

I did leave the picture for a few days and went back and just made some minor adjustments to the blending. Fresh eyes are always great to see little things that are just not right.

This was not the image I envisioned when planning and executing the shoot, but I think I got something a better perhaps less of a cliché. It is obviously a composited image, which I don’t really mind as it is a striking and bold image. It is an image I can imagine being in a food or drink magazine. I like that I can still see a v in the splash which links back to the idea of this being an image for Valentine’s Day.

Wine Splash Valentines Day

If I was to do anything different I would have spent more time taking pictures of splashes, perhaps used two flashes on the background and used a reflector instead of card. In Photoshop I wouldn’t change anything really.

Also please head over to Stacy’s blog to see the other participant’s entries into this weeks forum

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47 thoughts on “After and Before Forum; Valentine’s Day

  1. Thank You Michelle, It is a lot of effort with tarps and all but this effort is less than having to clean carpets and wood after throwing around different liquids.
    Glad you like the picture and thanks for commenting.

  2. Awesome composite, Ben! This is such a stunning image, and so alive! I love that you saw a V for Valentine’s. 😀 Great tutorial, I’ll have to visit your other how-to post as well.

  3. Fantastic, Ben! And such a wonderful Valentine’s shot 🙂 You amaze me with the creative lengths you go to to create your photos – don’t quite know how my husband would react if he caught me throwing around wine 🙂 I’m really excited to hear about your upcoming PS tutorials!!

    • My wife was at work while i was throwing my “wine around” and was only informed once all was tidied away. I do look at some of those fantastic shots and compositions and wonder how they were made and usually they are quite simple it just needs a bit of work before in camera. The next one I want to embark on is clouds of paint and I am half way there.
      My digital darkroom series should be moving onto Photoshop in the coming weeks, I have a few more posts about basic processing in Lightroom before I move to Photoshop.

    • Katie I will admit no wine was hurt in the making of this picture, I substituted wine for juice. Photoshop is really a fun playground for me and I like to experiment to create the best picture possible as well as realistic.
      I am glad you like the picture and post, also thanks for taking the time to comment.

      • Well, we need more teachers like you! Do you fully understand how much you influence those kids? I still remember my Spanish teacher and band teacher. They bent over backwards to make their classes interesting and appreciated us kids every day. At least that’s how I remember it. Then there were those teachers who always seemed angry or unhappy.

  4. Great work Ben, you prove once again to be limited by your imagination, thanks for sharing your work and helping all of us to expand our skills and imagination. I hope you have a great weekend. yes I am a little behind in my reading, but determined to catch up!

    • There is nothing wrong with ever being behind on your reading. In a way all art is limited by imagination and outside of the box thinking. I love to deconstruct images I like and see how I can create them. I read a lot about splash photography and how you need a large space and big lights. In truth you can do it on a smaller scale, if you think outside of the box.

  5. Cool photo! I would love to learn Photoshop…right now only using Lightroom. I taught myself to use Lightroom, I’ve heard there’s a bit more involved with Photoshop, but I’m sure I could teach myelf…especially with tutorials like yours! ~Sherry

  6. Love it. Will definitely try it out. With nail polish and nail art related products 🙂 as soon as I manage to actually take the pictures will ask for your opinion 🙂

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