Project:52, splash photography (week 2.5)

The idea of a Project:52 is to experiment with something new each week, but since our original attempt at splash photography seemed much more like a trial run than a wild success, Erin and I decided to give it a second go.  We still have a plan for another shoot this week, but we really wanted to take another crack at capturing some great splashes.  This time, our set-up was much more refined:  we used a tall, cylindrical glass vase to hopefully cut down on the distortion we got with the plastic rectangular container, and set our cameras on tripods so the camera and settings remained stable while we could watch more closely to capture the splash.

We also decided to experiment with different coloured backgrounds and different types of fruit.  With several vibrant colour combinations available and tested, for some reason I was drawn to a  monochromatic scheme:  pairing blackberries with black construction paper (which read as a dark, purpley grey under the studio lights.)  This sudden interest in monochrome is something I first played with in last week’s photo of the week,  and I’m not quite sure I understand why this is working for me lately, but this year is all about experimentation, so I’m gonna go with it!

Even with our refined set-up, I did do quite a lot of clean-up in PhotoShop to get rid of unwanted water and reflections on the walls of the vase.  I quite like the results, although the picky girl in me can notice a bit of blur in some of the water drops.  But, it’s an experiment, and I’m loving the learning process!


Project:52, splash photography (week 2)

(subtitle:  Timing is EVERYTHING)

So much of photography does depend on timing.  Ansel Adams is quoted as saying:  “Sometimes I do get to places just when God is ready to have somebody click the shutter.”  This is abundantly clear for landscape photography – imagine finding the perfect place to capture a brilliant sunrise only to show up early the next morning to find a cloudy, uninspiring sky – but equally true for most other genres of photography as well.  One of the most important aspects of portrait photography is the subject’s expression, and that perfect, honest expression may only last a fraction of a second.  Being a photographer is all about capturing that perfect moment, and this week’s Project:52 challenge definitely reinforced that concept.

This week Erin and I had planned to go out and do some night photography.  I was quite excited to see snow in the forecast for our chosen evening, imagining that it would be a perfect opportunity to capture some magical white flakes …  But perhaps I should have read that forecast a little bit more carefully, because with that snow came rather biting wind and temperatures that left the fingers rather frozen and us poor photographers feeling sadly uninspired.  Adventurous northern explorers we are not.  So, the evening was spent huddled around hot and tasty beverages in a nice warm coffee shop, planning ways to do INDOOR projects until the weather becomes slightly more inviting.

Our comfy substitute for night photography was some experimentation with splash photography.  I’ve seen so many amazing splash photos lately that I knew it was something I wanted to try.  So this morning we set up our studio strobes and started dropping things into a clear bowl filled with water.  (Apologies, I completely forgot to photograph our wonderful little makeshift set-up … I’ll remember for next time – we are quite innovative when trying to stay away from the cold outside!)  We quickly learnt several things, including a bunch of things that did not work, a list of things we were missing in order to achieve the perfect results, and that timing really is everything when you’re trying to catch a splash.

Attempting to do splash photography using little more than supplies found in your kitchen can be tricky.  We experimented with several styles of clear glass bowls before settling on a tall(ish) one that we could fill halfway and shoot straight through.  (Filling a bowl straight to the rim mostly eliminated the annoying rim-in-the-shot effect, but it got rather messy really quickly!)  This glass-is-half-full technique allowed us to get capture both the splash, and the object as it sunk beneath the surface.

And that, right there is the key:  attempting to catch the splash at the moment when it is at its peak, or the object just as it breaks the surface.  Without fancier and more expensive lighting gear with a much faster recycle time, our options were limited to cooperation, counting, and lots of missed shots to wade through.  It takes patience, and practice, but it’s really worth it when you finally catch that great shot.  Really excited to make another go of it and see what we can come up with next time!

splash photo, no edit

straight out of the camera. the edges of the container distract from the energy of the splash

splash photo

by cropping in and removing some of the distracting elements of the container, the image gets a lot stronger. A bit of tweaking to the hue, saturation and contrast, and bam!