Friday, November 13, 2015

Photographing water splashes

We took a break from our normal routine and decided to photograph some water splashes in the studio today.

Freezing the splash in mid air calls for a fast action flash. Normal studio units have a duration of flash that is generally too slow so we turned to our Nikon SB-910 flash units. Through trial-and-error we discovered that a 1/4 power setting on the flash units was enough speed to freeze the water without any motion blur.

The next problem to overcome is the depth of field, which needed to be quite extensive. The 1/4 power setting on the flash units did not provide enough light for a very stopped down aperture. To compensate we boosted the ISO to 400, which is not a problem on the D810. The result was a working aperture of around f/20.

A splash this complex is actually a combination of four separate splashes assembled in Photoshop.

Because we never knew exactly where a splash would end up we needed to include an extra large frame area that would allow a cropping of the images later. That was one reason for using the high 36MP of the Nikon D810. Cropping the image still resulted in a large enough photo afterwards.

The lens was a Nikon 85mm tilt-shift. First of all, this is a macro lens and, consequently, is comfortable working at a very low aperture. In addition, it allowed for tilting the lens to achieve even greater depth of field on the splash.

This is the basic setup. The two black flats provide the black edging on the water and glass. Behind them are two more Nikon flash units bouncing light from the white side of the flats onto the wall for a background illumination. A black water tray also helps with the black outlining. The main light is a single Nikon SB-910 set to quarter power and passed through a bank. The water is tossed in the air over the tank using a variety of implements. You have to experiment with this, as each one gives a different shape to the splash. 

We took advantage of the lighting setup and did some pouring shots afterwards. 

No comments :

Post a Comment