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    Making the Shot: your guide for taking stunning high-speed splash photos without flash


    The post Making the Shot: your guide to taking stunning high-speed Splash photos without Flash first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Rick Ohnsman.

    1 - Fast Splash photos ' s without flash - Rick Ohnsman

    Making one of my most successful photos ' s started with a small photo game on a hot summer day and an attempt to make some quick photography with splashing.

    The image above, "Red Bell Splashdown," won first place in the Corel International Food Photography Contest.

    Let's take a look at the "making of" methods used to make the recording so that you can also have fun with this fairly simple technique.

    Freeze movement

    There are essentially two ways to capture motion with a camera:

    1. Use a fast shutter speed so that the "strip of time" you record is very short and the object to be made moves very little, if at all, during the extremely short duration of the shutter, or
    2. Use the very short duration of a flash so that the object you are photographing is exposed for a very short time. The duration of an electronic flash can be extremely short. For example, a Speedlight like the Canon 580EXII at 1/128 power is less than 1 / 19,000th of a second!

    I have used the flash method and it can indeed produce some dramatic results. I will perhaps show that process and the results in a future article. But for my splash photos ' s I wanted to keep it simple and do it outdoors, where water splashes don't need cleaning up or endanger my camera. When I took these photos, I used my Canon 50D with a maximum shutter speed of 1 / 8000th of a second. I thought this would be enough to get the job done.

    2- Fast Splash photos ' s without flash - Rick Ohnsman

    Let the sun in

    Obviously, getting a good exposure with a very high shutter speed would entail various options:

    1. Use a fast lens with a large aperture – I was shooting with a Canon 50 mm f / 1.8 prime lens, so a large aperture was possible. However, I still needed a decent depth of field, so not opening it at all was not a good option.
    2. Use a high ISO – Driving up the ISO can help get a fast shutter speed, but then for more image noise. I didn't want that if I could avoid it.
    3. Shoot in very bright light. Normally, shooting under the summer sun would not be something that a photographer would do, but in this case blazing sunlight (and much of it) was the perfect solution.

    3- Fast Splash photos ' s without flash - Rick Ohnsman

    The set-up

    I wanted to use colorful subjects for the photo shoot. Bell peppers – easy to find in the supermarket in red, yellow and green – seemed like a good choice. I also picked some other colorful fruits – strawberries and limes. To accommodate the size of the objects and also give me a flat glass window to shoot through, a 10-gallon aquarium was just right.

    Because I wanted to get light, not only from above, but also from below, I placed a large 5-in-1 reflector on the table where I wanted to photograph, with the silver side up. I placed the aquarium on top in the clear afternoon sun. I filled the tank halfway with water and had the bubbles turned off while I put down the rest of the equipment.

    4- Fast Splash photos ' s without flash - Rick Ohnsman

    I put a pepper in the water and let it float while looking through the camera to frame the photo. I saw that I needed a solid and preferably dark background, so I put a piece of black paper behind the tank. The paper was still too bright with the direct sun on it, so I used another reflector, black side down, at the back of the tank to darken the background of the paper. I had placed my camera on a tripod and moved it to get as much as possible from the front of the tank into the frame, sure that I could concentrate so close.

    5- Fast Splash photos ' s without flash - Rick Ohnsman

    To be able to drop my subjects into the tank and also activate the shutter, I mounted a Youngnuo RF-602C radio trigger so that I could fire the camera remotely. A wired remote control with a cord that is long enough could also have worked.

    Camera settings

    I put the camera in manual mode. To get a good combination of the required fast shutter speed, decent depth of field and a not too high ISO, I found that shooting with ISO 400, F / 6.3 and the key – fast shutter speeds between 1/2000 and 1 / 3200th of a second was about right. I let a pepper float in the tank where I expected it to fall if I dropped it, set the focus, and then put it in the manual. I also put the shutter in continuous high speed mode, so for every drop I got a burst of about 5 shots.

    6- Splash photos with high speed without flash - Rick Ohnsman


    So good to do, I dropped the peppers, strawberries and limes and tried to fire the bursts in sync with my drops. My wife Kathy came out to participate and did some of the drops. We soon noticed that it was necessary to scrub the front of the glass and wipe it clean between the shots to clean the drops from the front of the glass from the previous shot. So it went: dropping, shooting, scrubbing and repeating. For every drop, a frame of the 5-shot burst may be good, but often not. Timing is crucial. With practice, while we had some skills, happiness was still a huge element. A lot of shooting was done to get the keepers. We also tried it with the peppers and fruits in different combinations. I easily took over 200 photos that afternoon.

    7- Splash photos with high speed without flash - Rick Ohnsman

    Clean up your act!

    Straight from the camera, the unedited images were less than impressive. Of course, Raw files look flat and so I knew they would improve greatly with a simple Raw operation. There were also more drops, splashes, bubbles and other particles in the water than I wanted. The most important thing though – the action – was pretty frozen and sharp!

    My Red Bell Splashdown image used ISO 400, f / 4.0, 1/3200 sec settings. The rest used editing tools to adjust the exposure, get a good rich color and deep blacks, and eliminate distractions. My favorite editing program is usually Adobe Lightroom. With the adjustment brush and the stain removal tool, I was able to clean up the image to create the impact I was looking for.

    8-speed high-speed photos & flash without flash - Rick Ohnsman

    Other considerations and options

    With every photo session it's always a good idea to criticize your work and consider: "What could I have done better? Otherwise? What variations would I like to try?"

    Since I had seen that I had used a shutter speed of 1 / 3200th for my splashshots, I was wondering how much difference there is at the maximum shutter speed of my Canon 50D which is 1/8000. I didn't want to set up the aquarium and all of this for this second experiment, so I tried something a little simpler.

    This time I poured liquid into glasses in the bright summer sun. This process was simple enough. I clamped the glasses on a stand, put a black background behind them, set the camera in the same way as the previous splash shots and did the sliders. This time my settings were ISO 400, f / 3.5, 1/8000 of a second.

    When checking the recordings afterwards, it was clear that the freezing effect was even stronger. With such a large aperture, however, my depth of field was much more superficial.

    9- Splash photos with high speed without flash - Rick Ohnsman

    What can I try next time?

    I would like to give different color backgrounds. Using Black Made editing much easier, and when cleaning up the recordings, it was easy to "darken" distracting elements. I'm not so sure that this would be achieved just as easily with a colored background. Trying with a white background for a high-key look can also look interesting.

    High Speed ​​10 Flash Photos ' s without Flash - Rick Ohnsman

    Of course it is also nice to use different objects for the splash photos. In fact, we did that when my Mini-Schnauzer, Schatzi, wanted to play during the splash photo session and decided to bring her her favorite ball. Looking at the "face" on the ball, I thought it might be fun to try it in a droplet, as we had done with the peppers. When I saw the result – what looked like the "creature" breathing bubbles out during a dive – it made me laugh.

    11-high-speed Splash photos without flash - Rick Ohnsman

    So, try this fast shutter technique. Take it outside in the bright sun, turn the shutter speed as high as possible and have fun. It's a great way to improve your camera skills, get to know the relationships between ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, and then test your editing skills when tuning your photos. I am confident that you will receive a number of images that you will be proud of.

    The post Making the Shot: your guide to taking stunning high-speed Splash photos without Flash first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Rick Ohnsman.

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