I could not count on my hands the number of times a bubbly was involved in my event photoshoots. Whether you want to take photos of a wedding or graduation, you are likely to encounter champagne. While extremely fun to pop and drink, shooting champagne is not as fun as it looks (trust me, I’ve been there!). It requires using the correct camera settings, which I will share below.
The best camera settings for popping champagne are manual mode and shutter speeds of 1/500 or faster. The manual shooting mode gives you full control over the image exposure. Meanwhile, a faster shutter speed allows you to freeze the action of popping the bubbly bottle.
However, when using manual mode, you must also adjust the aperture and ISO to create a balanced exposure. This article will teach you the other camera settings to use when photographing people popping a champagne bottle. I will also cover the additional factors to consider in the shoot.
What Are the Best Camera Settings for Popping Champagne?
Here are the camera settings I use when taking photos of popping champagne. Note that these can change depending on the unique lighting conditions and other factors in a scene. But for the most part, I swear by these functions in my camera.
The best shooting mode when photographing champagne is manual. That is because the scene requires perfect lighting, composition, and movement. And what other way to achieve these things by using manual shooting mode?
Manual mode lets you have full control over the camera settings. These include shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, all of which affect the image exposure.
You can access manual mode by rotating the mode dial on top of most cameras. Twist it to the “M” position, which stands for manual.
Alternatively, you can press the Menu button on your camera. Go to the “Camera Settings” tab with a camera logo on it. Scroll down until you find the “Shoot Mode” option and change it to “Manual Exposure.”
The shutter speed can make or break the champagne photoshoot. It describes how long the shutter stays open to emphasize movement within a scene. In other words, it affects how the bubbles or liquid will look once they escape the bottle of champagne.
The ideal shutter speed for popping champagne is at least 1/500. That simply means the camera records exposure at one-five-hundredth of a second, which is extremely fast.
A high shutter speed lets you freeze the action momentarily. It can make the bubbles appear suspended in air, resulting in a visually interesting image.
To adjust the shutter speed on your camera, find the rear dial or control wheel. Rotate either of these buttons to change the exposure time.
Aperture is equally important as shutter speed when taking photos of subjects popping champagne. It determines how large the opening of the lens is. As such, it affects the amount of light that hits the sensor.
Aperture also influences the depth of field, which is the area that appears sharp within an image.
You want a large aperture (small f-number) to let more light inside the sensor. Doing so enables you to achieve a properly exposed image of the subjects.
At the same time, having a large aperture gives you a shallow depth of field. It allows you to isolate the foreground from the background. It really comes in handy when shooting champagne bubbles because the audience can focus on them.
Personally, I prefer to use f/2.8 or as large as the shutter speed will let me. Note that a faster shutter speed means less light enters the image. So, you must keep the lens opening as large as possible to create a balanced exposure. Refer to the metering of your camera to know whether the image is overexposed or underexposed.
You can change the aperture or f-stop by rotating the front dial on your camera. This control wheel is located at the front grip near the shutter button.
Besides the shutter speed and aperture, you must also use the right ISO for popping champagne. It is the camera setting that brightens or darkens the photo. In more technical terms, it describes how sensitive the sensor is to light.
When shooting outdoor events, I always set the ISO to 100. If your camera allows it, use the extended ISO range, such as ISO 50. The lowest ISO is the least light-sensitive setting, which is exactly what you need in bright outdoor conditions.
But when the celebration happens indoors or any low-light situations, I adjust the ISO to 200 or 400. It increases the sensitivity of the sensor to light. I do not recommend going beyond ISO 1000 because it introduces a lot of grain in the image.
There are different ways to adjust the ISO, depending on your camera model. For example, on a Nikon camera, you must hold the Function “Fn” button and rotate the rear dial to change ISO. However, if you are a Sony user, you can press the right button on the rear control wheel and turn the dial.
This factor is often overlooked when choosing the best camera setting for champagne. White balance lets you control the color of the photo in the present lighting. It ensures the white remains white and other shades appear accurate. It is an important camera setting because you do not want champagne to look pink or red.
Most of the time, I leave the white balance setting to Auto. The camera automatically chooses the best lighting temperature to use for the scene.
However, when I move indoors to capture church wedding or grad pics, I take note of the lights used. If they cast an orange tint, I use the Tungsten white balance setting. When photographing a cool scene, I switch to the Fluorescent option.
You can change the white balance by finding the dedicated setting on the Menu system or pressing the “WB” button on your camera. Scroll through the different options until you find the ideal mode.
What Are the Other Factors to Consider for a Champagne Photoshoot?
By now, you know the best camera settings for popping champagne. But your job as a photographer does not end with playing around the settings. You must also consider several factors to ensure the success of the photoshoot.
I know you cannot always control the background, especially when shooting outdoors. But if there is a possibility to do so, remember to shoot on a dark backdrop. Doing so helps the pale bubbly drink stand out in the frame.
You can also use the sunset as a background when capturing the champagne spray. However, you may want to add a front light to reduce contrast in the scene.
Telling how the subjects pose is part of your job as a professional photographer.
Personally, I like to plan out the poses before shooting the champagne pop. I find that planning ahead saves me time and effort in the shoot because I do not need to re-shoot and waste precious champagne.
One of my favorite poses when shooting an engagement session is having one partner hold on to another while spraying champagne. I tell them to smile at the camera or look into each other’s eyes.
When taking graduation photos, I instruct one of the subjects to throw their graduation cap while another opens the champagne bottle.
Feel free to get creative with your posing ideas! The key is to have fun and showcase that joy through your champagne photos.
Type of Champagne
Most of the time, it is the client or subject that brings the champagne they want to pop. But it is always safe to bring at least two bottles of bubbly in case the first champagne spray fails.
There is no need to bring the most expensive champagne to the photoshoot. Most of the liquid will go to waste anyway. You can stick with a cheap champagne, like the Andre Brut or Cook brand. Remember to chill the bubbly before you pop the champagne cork.
You can also make fake champagne or buy sparkling cider if you are short on budget.
Way of Opening the Champagne Bottle
Finally, the way you open the bubbly bottle is crucial in capturing the perfect champagne photos.
Slowly remove the cork and hand it to the client or subject. Tell them to cover the top with their thumb and shake the bottle up and down. You must also instruct them to keep the end of the bottle away from their face.
Then, on your mark, they can release their thumb from the bottle opening. And there goes the pop! Champagne will come out of the bottle with bubbles spraying in all directions!
Champagne is a fun drink to shoot when your client is celebrating their milestones. However, it is not as easy to capture the fizzy drink and all the bubbles that come with it.
You must have the right camera settings to freeze the magical moment of popping champagne. Use manual mode, a fast shutter speed, a large aperture, and the lowest possible ISO. You can set the white balance to Auto, but you can also tweak it depending on the lighting conditions.
Do you have more questions about camera settings for a champagne spray? Feel free to visit our website for more guides about cameras.