Yesterday's pre-light worked out pretty well as a point of departure. The main thing to remember when shooting anything clear is that you can't light it directly, you need to light something for the object to "see" or reflect. Here's what the studio looked like today after shooting 8 plastic water bottles:
The product a clear bottle and a dark blue bottle-cap, two materials which respond completely differently to light. Rather than beating myself up trying to light the whole thing in one shot, I decided to light the cap separately. The solution is simple but effective, the light on the boom with the beauty dish is just for the cap, and the other two lights are for the bottle. The only trickery was to use two PocketWizards. The bottle lights are on Channel 1 and the cap light is on Channel 2. The exposure is the same (1/250 sec @ f22), so all I need to do is take a shot, flip a switch on the transmitter, and take a second shot.
The two shots come out perfectly registered, so all you need to do is drag a layer and then a very simple mask. Here it is with my stand-in bottle (not the real brand I'm shooting), I've left a big chunk of the cap photo unmasked so you can see the part that needs to be moved; it isn't much of an advantage here, but with a dark blue cap, its saves me hours of fiddling lighting. The final piece is going to be clipped out to white, so the background isn't an issue.
Tomorrow the client is coming back and we're shooting the same set of bottles, but this time with "dew" or "sweat" on them. If you're ever wondered how they get that look in product shots, tune in tomorrow and all will be revealed.