Levitating No.3 Gin

The flashes of light fell silent after a series of shots, and with them, my fear that the whole darned structure standing before me would collapse before my eyes in a second. I glance at Ross, whose hands trembled from holding the metal rod to which a jug was attached. The crack of shattered glass breaks the silence after the shots. The jug, which awkwardly hung on the metal rod, has just fallen onto the table with a hanging martini glass and a bottle of No.3 Gin. Thankfully, this was our final attempt to capture the water splash.

However, starting from the beginning, a few months earlier, I received a request to create a creative photo in the studio. It was a project related to the No.3 Gin Cocktail Competition. The photo was supposed to capture a levitating bottle with a martini glass and a cocktail cascading from above, splashing inside the glass. Here’s the sketch I received:


As always, my research for inspiration started with Pinterest to get a rough idea of what final lighting effect I would like to achieve. After the research, I had a preliminary idea of how I wanted to light the set, although I didn’t expect it to deviate so much from the final lighting arrangement.


Photography Day

Frustrated, I sat down in the chair, gazing at the studio flash lamp. I couldn’t believe that the props I needed for the photoshoot hadn’t arrived that day. We didn’t receive the acrylic glass or transparent acrylic rods that were supposed to hold up the gin bottle and martini glass above the table. Additionally, we lacked something to hold the water pitcher.

We reached a point where we considered postponing the photoshoot to the next week or two until the missing shipments arrived at the studio. However, Ross had traveled by train from a city four hours away, so we preferred to avoid an additional trip.


Turn left – I heard from the phone app after setting the route to the art supply store.

Drizzle and overcast weather were the perfect start to this day. Our first stop on the itinerary was Hobbycraft, followed by Homebase, where unfortunately we didn’t find anything useful for the photos. Our final destination was Wickes, where we eventually found items we could use for the photoshoot. These included three metal rods and acrylic sheets that should ideally replace the ones we were expecting to receive that morning.

Studio preparations

I feel the melted glue from the glue gun dripping onto my hand and stinging my skin. Unfazed by this pain, I calmly continued in the studio, attaching a martini glass to a metal rod (or rather, infuriated, I almost accidentally knocked over the gin bottle from the table). After a moment of respite, I proceeded to further attach the glass to one metal rod and later the martini bottle to another. Ross took care of securing the water jug to the third metal rod. Now we just had to find a way to attach each item to a separate tripod. Since we lacked clamps in the studio, we had to use adhesive tape to secure the metal rod with the martini bottle to the tripod. After wrapping the tape around the joint several times, we were ready to provisionally position the glass and gin bottle.

„This lighting is causing the photo to lack depth,” I thought as I looked at the camera screen. My initial idea was to use a softbox placed high at a 45-degree angle to the subject of the photograph. So, I changed its position to top-down to delicately illuminate the entire set. To add depth, I decided to use flashes without softboxes and with snoots to aim them directly at specific elements of the set. Ultimately, I used four flashes. Three were directed at each individual element of the set: martini glass, gin bottle, water jug.


Time for the photo

I watched as Ross navigated through the small studio space behind the set, avoiding cables and ensuring nothing was knocked over on his way – „health and safety first.” Upon reaching the intended location, he positioned the cocktail jug attached to the metal rod he held over the levitating glass. He turned the jug on my count of three. One, two, three…

The flashlights fired continuously until they finally fell silent after the cocktail jug was emptied. We looked at the camera screen together to ensure we had photos suitable for editing. We could breathe a sigh of relief and with joy that this session had indeed been successful, we decided to try capturing the splash again.


In the following days, I edited the photos. I had captured around 80 shots, so it took me some time to choose the best one. To compose this photo, I used around 10 images. I separately took photos of the set using each flash. This way, I could control which element I wanted to show in the photo and which imperfections I could mask without using the clone stamp tool, patch tool, or AI-generated images in Photoshop.

This is how the raw photos looked:


This is the final result:


Thank you for reading; I hope you found this post both interesting and informative.