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Photography Tutorial – Home Studio Splash Photography

For this weeks post, I decided to give a brief tutorial on a recent image I created in my home studio. I have been experimenting with still life photography recently and have been having a great time doing it! This area of photography is one I’d like to explore further because of the creative freedom and earnings potential in creative commercial photography.

Here is the final image I created the other day in my studio:

To begin, I imagined what the end result might look like and what creative direction I wanted to go in. I remember seeing a tutorial from Photigy on Youtube for this type of photography and that’s what initially inspired me to create this image.

I had to break this image up into different parts – First, I needed to tape down the wine glass so it wouldn’t move when I splashed water on it. After a few splashes, the tape began to peel off, so I think next time I’ll use some sort of sticky putty on the bottom of the glass, instead. Also, that will save me time in post production cloning out the tape and brushing in a frame without the tape.

All I had to do now was splash the water at the wine glass and trigger the camera at the perfect moment to capture a nice splash!

My camera settings were f/11, ISO 200, 1/160th. For equipment, I used a Nikon D610 on a tripod with a Nikon 70-210 f/3.5-4.5D lens. Quick note about the lens: it can be found used for less than $100 and is tack sharp! I picked it up after “the angry photographer” on Youtube recommended it, and I am happy with the purchase. It’s an older lens and still has the aperture ring, so I feel many people don’t want to buy it because they think it isn’t good glass, but it definitely is.

For lighting: I used two speed lights; one on 1/64 power behind a sheet of tracing paper behind the wine glass giving me a nice backlit feel, and the second was on 1/64 power to camera right aimed at the glass to give some sparkle and light to the splash. The low power setting of the speed lights is what captures the splash, not the shutter speed! The shutter speed was set to 1/160 only because that was fast enough to block all ambient light. The flash duration of the low powered flash causes the water to be frozen because the flash pop is so quick.

Here are some of my splashes:

It only took a few splashes until I realized I had exactly what I wanted. At first, the blue food coloring in the water wasn’t even visible, so I had to add more and splash again.

Once I had the splash I wanted, I blended that with a clean, water-free frame I took before I taped or splashed. I did some color adjustments and whitened up the background a bit, and took out some droplets that didn’t seem to fit, and I had my final image. Overall, I would say the entire process from start to finished took a few hours.

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