Woodford Reserve Letter B Stopper

Blanton’s Bourbon Letter B Stopper (click to enlarge)

Eadweard Muybridge took a set of famous images proving that all four feet of a horse were off the ground at the same time while trotting.  Those who drink bourbon might be aware that the stoppers on Blanton’s bourbon bottles feature a small galloping horse.   The image above shows one such stopper.  Note the letter “B” in a circle under the left-most hoof.  Blanton’s uses a series of stoppers with different letters to spell their name, each with the horse in a different pose.  Having collected a complete set of stoppers to spell out Blanton’s, I thought it would be a nice project to recreate Muybridge’s horse in motion with Blanton’s bottle stoppers.

The first step was to shot each of the stoppers.  I knew I was going to cut the stopper out of each image and then combine them into one long image.  To help in cutting the stopper out of the image, I used pins to lift the stopper above the background material.  I originally used blue material for my background.  After taking a few test images I noticed a blue cast to the stopper.  I changed to the gray background which seemed to get rid of any noticeable color casting.

I lit the stopper using an Adorama Photo Studio In-A-Box.  I started out using the lights that came with the box, but could not get the lighting right.  Instead, I opened the top of the studio in-a-box and used my Smith-Victor Thrifty Lighting Kit.  I used one light with an umbrella above and to the right of the stopper, and another light with umbrella down and to the left of the stopper.  I positioned my camera, with a 90mm macro lens, between the two light stands.

I made all images with my camera tethered to my Mac using Lightroom 3.0.  This is an great way to look at your images immediately and make changes to your set-ups between exposures.  It also has the advantage of not having to move the camera between images to download the memory card.  Finally, you can also control the shutter release from your computer which is just plain cool.