How to Capture Splash Images on a Budget
There is a technique to this, but it's really up to you, because there is no right answer, but there are wrist motions I use that are a little more predictable than others. So let's get this... Surprisingly, I don't have a... My regular wine glasses are in the studio right now, so I'm gonna use this guy which is kinda handy. I tend to like a wider...
You want me to trigger this one, Steve?
This is a really small set to be doing this on. I happen to... I'm also going the other way, 'cause I'm left-handed, so we'll see... (laughs) All right, one, two, three... Wow.
Well, it's a little early still.
But with milk, it's really quick to do another one.
All right, here we go.
I'm gonna start to aim not for my strip light. All right, one, two, three... And there's an amount you can fill it that's better. It's kind of, like, a third of the way. All right, here we go, one, two... So that's a very smooth, you know, pour. You can actually blend t...
hese together, if you get two that are similar, you can actually, they're easy to blend together. You can bend 'em into each other in Photoshop. And so you get one special piece, or one good piece. Let's get a square container. How are we doing on time, okay, or...
We have about 10, 15 minutes.
Ten minutes? Okay. And I'll show you how to drag and how to... (person speaking off mic) Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I'm gonna drag this one, Jack.
Okay, here we go. One, two, three... So that'll give you, like, a rounded, at least I think... Oh, the front of it wasn't there. This'll give you more of a rounded sheet. So if you do it right, there'll be a sheet that comes outta here. You have to have a fair amount and you just drag it, and it'll drag the milk away from you, so it'll be this flat sheet. So that's kinda, let's, before it gets too crazy back here, we're gonna have to reset. There's a point of diminishing returns where your just, set just becomes a mess. You just can't do it. So we have, we at least have enough plates that were happy with that I think we're gonna be able to do it in post. So let's get back to...
Just for starters, Steve, if you could tell us again, go over the settings and sort of that, the lens you were using for this particular shot.
Yeah, we're, this is 85 millimeter to keep the camera away from the set. It wasn't a creative decision as much as a logistical decision. I, with this lens setup and this distance, I get the most bang for my buck as far as depth of field. So I'm at ISO 100, f/16, 1/250th of a second, and with a flash duration of 1/8000th of a second on the flash. Because of this, because of the shutter speed, we've been able to knock out all of the ambient light, which I didn't know would be, I thought that might be an issue, but it seems to work out really well. But on the screen right now, you can see some examples of different splash techniques I've used. The upper right was the peanut butter shot that I told you about, and that was a collision that was before the original trigger. So I had to learn how to wait for things to unfold in front of camera. The coffee cup was the donut being held by that articulating arm, and then I literally push it into it. So that's an actino shot of that. Olive oil looks amazing on camera. That's why I usually add a little oil to it. I just love the look of it. It's a little hard to manipulate. You'll see a lot of splash photographers use paint. Paint is by far the easiest to control as far as getting cool shapes, 'cause it's very viscosus. It tends to pull and it just creates these beautiful... So if you're looking to do things that aren't necessarily food-based, or even if you just wanna do, like, Dove soap, you know the Dove soap commercials where you have the... That's all white paint, 'cause it's much more controllable and less... But it makes a huge mess of your studio and you need to be totally ready for that. That's a whole different ball game. Yeah.
Steve, what about milk? Is there anything that you can use to replace milk? That was from FilmGuy321.
Yeah, I don't like, I actually don't like milk, and... Because it's too thin. It sprays everywhere. It breaks apart too fast. Whereas paint doesn't. It stretches. Milk just goes everywhere. Whereas heavy cream at least has some properties of paint. It has, you know, so heavy cream, half and half, but it has to be cold. And when we're doing the milk ad, we have to use that milk in the image. So if you're doing a project for a milk company, you're using milk. So it's just a legal thing that you have to do. So it's important to kind of watch that and learn how to work with milk. That's why we put it in the fridge. It's cold. We have gallon after gallon after gallon in there, and we just continue to work with it. But again, this is a... I don't know if I've showed this slide yet, but this is my first home studio where I was doing the splashes, and it was a really, you could see some similarities of the set. I had a black background in this instance, and I had a beauty dish, actually, that I used for fill, and so it was a... I had two strip lights at the time, but that changes. So my lighting doesn't stay the same. I'm always kind of working with it. But we went over flash duration. It's really important. Not all flashes are created equal. So look, if you're looking to do liquid capture, the thing is, if you're looking to get a model jumping off a trampoline, you don't need tons of flash duration for that. When you're getting stuff moving at Mach 10, especially crash, stuff crashing together, you need eight to 10,000th of a second, for sure, to get a nice crisp image. So it really depends. There's different brands that specialize in different things, and I just love (mumbles) able to do in the flash duration department. But I've used AlienBees and I've used the, I'm looking to use the Speedlights, 'cause I really am excited about what that might add as far as the macro shots go. But yeah, it's important to experiment and see what works for you. It's not gonna come overnight. You really have to kinda practice and practice, and this kinda practice isn't easy. This isn't about going out to the grocery store and buying a macaroon and shooting it. This is about putting paint tarp down on your home and really kind of creating some hazardous conditions that you're gonna work in. So safety and cleanliness is really key, and I don't wanna end on that 'cause that's snooze stuff, but, you know, it's important. You don't wanna kill yourself for this photography. You don't wanna knock your head on the concrete. So it's really crucial to, you know, I always have a first aid kit handy. I always have a fire extinguisher handy. I always have tons of towels, unlike today, normally able to spread out and really clean up, 'cause you will need that. Really good, like, beach towels really help. So that's an important thing to remember is take your time, don't overdo it, and don't be caught up in the moment too much, 'cause you'll miss little things that are important in the image. It's just as important as a still life in the way things are lit. So don't settle for lighting issues at all. Don't settle for it. Keep getting it until you know, until you sort of pre-visualize how that light is gonna interact with the food, and then you'll just be able to do it really quickly. Generally.
So, Steve, lotta people at home that are super impressed by what they've just seen, but are still a little bit fearful that they could actually do it themselves.
So can we spend...
...a little bit more time talking about how you would do this at home?
Is it realistic?
This person says, "I'm completely new to this, and maybe I missed it, "but how do you do this at home on your own? "How would you take the photo "and throw at the same time?"
And this is shameless plug time, because, I mean, buying the class, and I've purchased classes from Creative Live because you can't, you have to go back. You have to go back and kind of revisit things. And so, you know, I'll go over, I did this at home to begin with, and...
I mean, there was this camera. If you have a tripod and a, any kinda DSLR camera, any kinda lens that you're comfortable with. I recommend 85s and a decent, you know, DSLR. But you do need to have either speed lights, you need to have some sort of source. But if you wanna go practice, you should go practice in the park. Go to the park on a sunny day with just your camera in your hand, 'cause you don't need a tripod at this flash duration, or at that shutter speed. Go out in the sunlight and see, and put your camera on manual, or at least to shutter speed priority, and put it on 1/8000th of a second, and see where your f-stop falls as far as your exposure, getting the right exposure. If you're comfortable with that and it seems to be working out and you're getting good shots, you can throw, you can go to the park and throw bubbles and throw water in the air and stuff that won't pollute, you know, the park, but you can actually practice splashes that way. That's actually how I originally practiced getting different shapes, is I would actually go and photograph different water and just different materials and continue to practice until I was able to manipulate the liquid in a certain way. But doing this at home is easy. I mean, it's just a matter of, I recommend going to the garage, 'cause obviously in your home it's not always easy. But you just set down a tarp and as long... What I'd recommend is doing small scenes. You can get a turkey baster full of liquid and just spray it and capture that, and it just takes up a scene. You can do it on your kitchen table. You can do it into a bowl. You can do milk splashes. As long as you have a little tub around you that's catching some of this liquid, it's easy to do as long as you have those settings that I mentioned. So a speed light is mandatory. Going outside. Something to get either your shutter speed or the flash duration of your flash down to around 8000th, which is, like, the magic number for me. But it's totally doable. You should just try it. Try small, start small. You don't have to do this whole set. This is medium-sized splash photography. It's not huge. But you can do something as small as... Which we're gonna experiment with in the studio later in the month. It's just getting actually the macro lens out and getting super close and doing minute splashes, or just, you know, throwing honeycomb on the ground and seeing what happens. Just experiment. You can do crashes. It doesn't have to be big, which is what I'm trying to get at. And if you have a speed light and you put it right here, that's the same size and relativity to, you know, a larger watermelon or something in relationship to the strip light. So you have a big light source. It's kinda big if you think about it. And even if you put a strip light or a speed light with a little piece of diffusion in front of it, then you have some really nice light. So there's nothing that says you have to go big like this. You should be starting small. You can do stuff on a table this big in your home and just, you know, get a little, maybe get, like, a picture frame, like, at a store, and then put a little piece of tarp, you know, thinner tarp. You don't have to go crazy, 'cause it's not, you're not stepping on it. And just, you know, throw stuff at it and capture it and practice triggering, practice triggering. You'll get some shots just as good if not better than what we did today doing that. There's no size... It translates really well to large or small. You just have to have the power, and the more power you need at that flash duration, the more expensive it gets. I mean, you can get into $50,000 just in the lighting. So, but you can get away, if you rent a speed light, take this home, get a little plastic on your table, practice, and you'll get hero shots you're actually really proud of in a hurry if you're patient with it. So, and then cleanup's a lot easier. We'll be doing, we'll be cleaning up here for another hour, you know. So hopefully you guys picked up on something that you at least know what the bigger scale is and at least know how to get down to that smaller scale. Do you feel comfortable, like, if you were to go home with a speed light and you understood the basic properties of the speed light settings, which is a whole nother class, but there's a lot of, but you put it on manual, you just put it on medium to lower power. It doesn't tell you what the flash duration is. It just happens to be really short because it's a small flash and low power, and so it doesn't have to recover as quickly from that flash. It's just really low. So you rent a speed light for a weekend if you don't have one, 'cause they do, they're six, they're up there. But, and then you just get a bunch of little pieces of fruit. You, what you can do is you can actually just take a cherry and dip it in chocolate, take shots of that over and over again. That would be a cool shot. But all of your images are gonna be kind of low-key. They're gonna be darker just because of that. So keep that in mind, at least. Your light, the light that your speed light gives off is that only light that you're gonna see in the shot. You're not gonna see any natural light at all. So if you do want the background lit, you have to kinda go semi on camera flash, or you get two, you rent two of those, use one for the background, use one for your subject, and you're fine. And then you can get pretty high-key stuff, especially if you're close to it, you could get white. If you fully light a white card behind something you shoot at medium to low power on a speed light at these settings, you're gonna get a pretty bright shot. It's just when you pull out that it gets darker. So it's really important to maintain that relativity to what you're doing, but it's very easy to get small macro splash shots at home, for sure. And you can do this, too, and I did.