Splash Photography

Creating splash photographs can be a lot of fun and most of the time a messy project. If you are interested in giving this a try, here are some things you will want to prepare for.

First, you are going to want to figure out what you want to splash.  If it's a cube of fake ice in a cocktail glass like a above, you will want plenty of the liquid star and some towels to clean up with.  

Each time you drop the cube, a splash occurs and leaves fluid all over you background.  Take some time before you clean up to see how far away you should be, to be out of the frame, be accurate to hit the glass and to determine how large of a splash you are looking for. Once you get this all figured out, along with your exposure, you can clean up and start shooting for real.

 To get a larger wave of a splash, the table was tilted and the camera was tilted at the same angle so when the cube was dropped there is more area for the wave of liquid to escape.

To get a larger wave of a splash, the table was tilted and the camera was tilted at the same angle so when the cube was dropped there is more area for the wave of liquid to escape.

In this example, I placed the drinking glass on a piece of black plastic. I like to use a fairly thick piece of plexi so that it doesn't flex during the shoot. Black works great for creating a nice mirror reflection.   I also had a second sheet of plexi (this one was white translucent) suspended as the background a foot or so away from the glass to avoid having to clean this each time.

Once you get all your splashing techniques figured out, you will have to set the lights to get the perfect exposure.  If you are using continuous lights or shooting outdoors, then you need to get your camera shooting with the fastest shutter speed you can get. Most of today's cameras can shoot at 1/8000 of a second which is pretty fast but not as fast a strobe flash. However, to do that you will likely need a lot of light.  Another way of shooting this kind of thing is using strobe units to provide the light.

 

I used Profoto B1 portable strobe units.  When set up properly, their flash duration can be 1/19,000 of a second.  Keep in mind that the flash duration is directly correlated to the power of the flash.  The lowest power gives you the faster flash duration.  With that in mind, you will need to have your strobes fairly close to the subject since there is so little light being output.  Also, with every diffuser you put on your strobes, the less light you will get, you won’t get a faster duration, but less quantity of light.

While the Profoto B1 units are great, they are kind of expensive.  If you have the small portable strobes like the Nikon SB910 or Canon 580’sthese strobes can fire off at 1/35,000 of a second, (Canon) 1/38,000 (Nikon) when set at their lowest output.

While these flashes can certainly stop liquid when set on their lowest power, they don’t put out a lot of light at such a low power, so you may need more than one flash unit.  Adding more flash units, can boost your light quantity and not effect the flash duration. Give it a try!

 

Copyright 2015, Terry VanderHeiden