Photography on a Budget: Splash Photography

Today we start a new series called photography on a budget, where you can get professional looking photos with everyday items around your house. Each week I will look at different ideas you can try at home and outside with everyday household items or cheap items that can be purchased online.

 

Introduction:

Splash photography is one of my favourite types of photography, freezing water in motion (or any liquid) is truly magical, giving you another perspective on water. The water you drop can be dyed to create different colours and you can add different liquids to the water to give it another effect such as oil, vinegar or even cordial. To maximise the effect of the water splashes, pick an everyday object to pour the water over, or drop an everyday object into a bowl of water. Lighting is going to be very important in this, normally professional photographers use high powered flashes to freeze the water in time, however their flashes are done behind the subject through wireless sync and those flashes often cost a lot of money, however I keep an eye out for my recommendation on budget flashes.

 

Aim:

To capture the water splashes at a high rate, freezing it in mid-air on a budget.

Equipment:

  • CFL lamp, we need these lamps to light up the water from behind
  • Baking paper, this is to diffuse the light from the lamp
  • LED torches, we need these to light up the bulbs from the front
  • Water, to pour over the object
  • Light bulb, our object to pour over (you can choose your own)
  • Camera with a sharp lens, preferably a prime.
  • Making tape, to tape up the baking paper
  • Tile or a plate, to rest our object on
  • Bucket or a tub, to rest our tile on and to catch the water that falls
  • Tripod, to ensure our shots are stable and crisp
  • Towels, we will end up spilling water unfortunately
  • Food dye, to colour the water, spicing up the photos
  • Table, to create a stable surface for your set-up

 

Method:

  1. Pick a spot to set up your equipment, preferably somewhere dark as you only want the background to be lit by the CFL lamp.
  2. Place your tub on your table with your tile or plate on top, make sure there is enough room for your water to drip down into the tub after you pour your water.
  3. Use blu-tack to secure your object in the middle or towards the back of the tile, you want the camera to focus on the tile and the object, don’t want to include the tub.
  4. Set-up your CFL lamp behind the tub and tiles, make sure your object is directly in front of the incoming light, place books or anything to raise up the lamp.
  5. Cut some baking paper to cover the lamp, this is because we want to diffuse the light, rather than making it very harsh on the subject. You can hang this from wall to wall. I hung my baking paper from the wall to a pole, think creatively of how you can hang up your baking paper.
  6. Set-up your tripod and camera up, make sure you get the framing right so that your object is in the middle and on a good angle, otherwise the splashes will look less appealing. You may not even use a tripod, you can use a small bookshelf, or books stacked together or even a chair.
  7. Once you have your framing right, set up your LED torches, I used two, on either side of the object give the front of the object a bit of glow, so the viewer can see the object. The LED torches don’t need to be bright and should be placed a fair distance away, just giving enough light to light up the front.
  8. Set your camera is a shutter speed of 1/4000, iso to around 800 to 1600 and your f stop to around f/5 to f/9 to ensure you get good enough depth of field so that all your water droplets are in focus.
  9. Take a few test shots to adjust your settings to ensure that everyone works well. Remember you can edit certain things in post so don’t be too pedantic on the quality.
  10. Pour water as your hold the shutter down, make sure your camera is on continuous shooting.
  11. Repeat with dyed water to create different scenes and moods.

Sample set-up:

21038048_1782263088468598_1755618247_o

Results:

HOT TIP: Make sure you are shooting in .raw so you can edit in post!

Concluding thoughts: 

The entire exercise took me no longer than 15 minutes to set-up and was really quick to tear down. Make sure to take as many shots as possible or up until you get the shot you really want. Not only is this cheap, it also produces some amazing photographs for you to share with your friends and the outside world. Remember to tune in every Wednesday or (Tuesday if you live in the states) for a new weekly photography idea on a budget!

 

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