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Need a frozen lake for a photo shoot? Here's how to fake it using real ice

New York-based commercial photographer Adrian Mueller is known for stunning images of food and drink that will make your mouth water. He puts a great deal of effort into nailing not just the look of an image, but the feel. For a recent campaign for Maker’s 46, a top-shelf bourbon from Maker’s Mark that is produced only during the winter months, he simulated a frozen lake inside his studio to capture the essence of the product.

Working on one of the coldest days in New York, Mueller brought in a huge block of ice that his assistants meticulously cracked and carved to make a resting spot for the bottle. All of the studio windows were left open and Mueller even ran the air conditioning in the morning to keep the room as cold as possible to maximize working time with the ice.

Mueller shot the project on the Hasselblad H1, with a Phase One P45 medium-format digital back. While not the newest or highest-resolution back from Phase, Mueller chose it because it was the camera he used when he first started to shoot for Maker’s Mark two years ago. By sticking with the same gear, it ensured consistency.

The shoot was done in cooperation with a Kentucky-based ad agency. “We collaborated on an idea, which expanded on their concept of using the wax from the iconic Maker’s Mark seal as a main element in the shoot,” Mueller told Resource Magazine.

Working in layers, Mueller took multiple exposures, setting the light specifically for just one element of the scene at a time, from the ice, to the bottle, to the background. He used highly diffuse light, with large soft boxes shining through additional diffusion sheets. All of the layers were then composited in post production to create the final image, which shows the Maker’s 46 bottle resting on the cracked ice with a warm red glow in the background inspired by the iconic red wax seal.

The full video is definitely worth watching for any aspiring product photographer. You can see the final image, free of ad copy, on Mueller’s website.

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