Skip to main content

Setting Up Your Splash Image

Lesson 6 from: Capturing Food in Motion

Steve Hansen

Setting Up Your Splash Image

Lesson 6 from: Capturing Food in Motion

Steve Hansen

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

6. Setting Up Your Splash Image

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

In this lesson, the instructor discusses the importance of camera responsiveness and flash duration in capturing food in motion. He mentions that any DSLR camera can work for this type of photography, and that the lens camera combination is not as important. He also explains that speed lights have short flash durations but less power, while strobes like Broncolor have longer flash durations but more power. The instructor emphasizes the need for trial and error when setting up the shoot, and mentions the use of V-Flats for bouncing light and filling in shadows. He also explains how to determine the focal plane for the shot and the importance of front to back sharpness in composite images.


  1. What type of camera is recommended for capturing food in motion?

    Any DSLR camera is recommended for this type of photography.

  2. What is the importance of flash duration in this type of photography?

    Flash duration determines the speed at which the flash fires, and a shorter flash duration is preferable for capturing fast-moving liquids.

  3. Can speed lights be used for this type of photography?

    Yes, speed lights can be used, but they have shorter flash durations and less power compared to larger strobes.

  4. What is the purpose of V-Flats in food photography?

    V-Flats are used to bounce light and fill in shadows, particularly when shooting stainless steel to create a nice gradient and foreground fill.

  5. How is the focal plane determined in food photography?

    The focal plane is determined by focusing a third of the way into the scene, but not all the way to the front, to ensure front to back sharpness.

Lesson Info

Setting Up Your Splash Image

Alright let's all get into position. I'll sort of direct. So I'm sort of taking lead on this and I'll direct. I don't always trigger the camera, Jack on the milk shoot that I showed you was the trigger I believe, or was I? It was me. Both of us. That's right, I remember swearing a lot during that. The reason I like this camera is it responds to the touch. This is what I'm looking for in a camera, so any DSLR, I think is really responsive. Medium format, I know they might've improved this in the recent model, they haven't, okay. It's a slow, I mean everything about medium format is slow and beautiful and tons of dynamic range, tons of detail. This handles liquids a little better. It's less expensive. I mean any DSLR camera really will work for this. The lens camera combination really isn't as important. It's a lot about the quality of your flash duration, the speed of your flash duration. So we were talking during the break that speed lights are extremely short, no power. This stuff...

is really, Broncolor specializes. I think their new pack goes up to 10,000th of a second at t.1. T.1 is just a measurement for flash duration. T.1 is like the true flash duration, I believe. And t.5 is sort of a way that they get their numbers up to look faster than they really are. But a lot of these strobes like the Alienbees are plenty fast. I've used quite a few different models. They'll get you most of the way there, and especially if it's a smaller image you can't tell. It's when you blow it up to 100% that you can really start to notice the difference. But they're all good and they all will get the job done. This just happens to be what I'm happy with and what I use. So let's get started. I'm gonna be in charge of triggering. And who wants to throw? Because I like to throw and trigger. Who wants to trigger? Can you trigger? Yeah sure. Alright, I'll tell you what I'm looking for. I'll throw, Melina if you want to be in charge of, I hate to put you in charge of this but if you want to be in charge of just grabbing the bucket and refilling. Okay. Let's make sure, so before we actually throw something we're going to make sure that this whole thing works and we're not you know. I want to make sure that I have easy access to this that it won't pull down the curtains, make sure that both of your lights on because that one wasn't even activated when we started this. Oh quick note on the background, we just have a piece of wood that I scavenged. It was in the parking lot of a World Market. If you look closely, those are shelves, the wooden shelving you find in a World Market and there were like 20 of them in the parking lot and I went in and asked, I looked for the least experienced person and said hey those are out there, are you getting rid of those can I have them? And he's just like oh sure just take them. And so I took them. And I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to have them so I had, already said World Market, I'm in trouble. But so I painted them myself. I went through and this one's actually been through some. I think this is one I used for my egg shots. There's like egg on it still. So I have to clean them but the thing is, it's easily cloned out and it'll probably most likely be covered by the actual splash so it's not really a big deal. But yeah so if you find, the cool thing about backgrounds is if you find anything, you can go home and get some acrylic paint or crackle paint and I recommend that you paint like a single layer of really thin, and then maybe a second layer, and then even third layer with like crackle mixed in with it so it actually naturally crackles away. And then sand away at it, beat it, just do things to make it look authentically aged. Yeah I'd even throw it outside for a month if you have time and let it sun drench. You have to take it a little bit further or else it looks like you actually painted it. I do have some surfaces that are just single quick jobs, but it was a blurry background so it didn't have as much of an effect. When I shoot with a deep depth of field, that's when really you have to pay attention to the background. Alright so we've got rosemary in here, let's clip it, can we clip that even. So I'm gonna get to work. I'm gonna be kind of in the zone which I really have to be for these shoots. But there's no, you can interject with questions during the shoot at anytime whether the internet or in live studio audience. And I'll be happy to answer it. Alright so we've got three, let's put some mussels on top. Alright here we go. So Jack you are on triggering. Yep. And I'll be on throwing. And so once we do this first throw, we're gonna know a lot about our set in a hurry. We'll know if there's leaks, we'll know if there's places we should have covered that we did not. And we'll have to make those adjustments as we see them. It could be that you know this plastic is pulled too tight and the actual force pushes the plastic away. We don't know yet. I have an idea of what's gonna happen. I've done it before but when you're first starting out it's so much just about trial and error. So I know you guys want to see me throw this so I'll just throw it. We'll do it, let's do it. Because there's a lot of liquid in the bottom of this pan, I'm gonna throw it with some force to get that liquid out. I don't want to just pour it, the liquid will not come. I really wanna just go after it. So I'm gonna go really heavy on this one, and Jack what I'm looking for is so I'm gonna move my hand and Jack's gonna tell me when I'm in frame. So I know that looking in the camera, we've taken some test shots, and you can actually tape this. This really helps you when you're first starting out especially if you're doing it by yourself, is to put little markers where the actual camera's framing. And we've actually moved away so that we have room to crop in. Like I said earlier, it's important to have a little bit of wiggle room. But I'm gonna move my hand until I'm in frame and Jack's gonna tell me when I'm in frame. Now. Now? Yeah your palm's in the frame, there we go that's the very edge. So this is the very edge, so that's very helpful. Yeah. That's good to know. And you're about halfway on the right-hand apple box. Maybe a little less than halfway. So to here. Give or take? Take. Yeah about there. Right sort of the edge of the. That's not a lot of room. Alright. What I wanna do is I wanna direct this within the plane of focus. I'm gonna put the stockpot in the where I want the plane of focus to be. I'm probably gonna focus right on that nub. So we need to, I don't wanna be directly in the front because I want the focus to fall right into the first third of the scene. Just like you would in landscape photography where you get the most depth of field if you. Generally speaking I don't want to be right in the front because everything in the back will just start to fall out. So we're pretty good on. On the nub. Yeah. Oh that's a lot of room. So you'll notice that stockpot already looks kinda cool. The one thing I usually do that would, that just won't be possible in this scenario is if you're shooting liquids, this can actually really protect your set. Do you guys know what V-Flat is? It's just two white four by eight thick foam core pieces gaffer taped together. And it forms a V, and it'll go all the way to the ceiling. And what we would do is we'd cut a hole for the lens. And just put a V-Flat and go into the lens and then do a V-Flat. Because what you're seeing here on the stockpot, and this won't be a hero in the shot, but if this were the hero, we would need to do that to bounce light into the scene. Because right now we just have edge lighting and there's no fill. To combat that with food it's not much of an issue, with stainless steel big issue. So we have to have a V-Flat to create a nice gradient and a nice foreground of fill for the stockpot. But I think for the splashes we'll be fine. What I would do Jack, since the highlight shows really good if you for example purposes, if you could sort of do some preproduction already on it and bring up the shadows. Just kind of make it look nice. Because we shoot. We tend to have to bring up the shadows. That's why I shoot at ISO-100 all the time. Because if you try and cheat the system and get more depth and then try and bump up your ISO to even 500, is 200, the noise will be a nightmare. It's actually better to shoot and just bring up the shadows in post. You'll still get some noise but it's really indiscernible at this point if you're careful. That's why having the dual packs sometimes if I feel like I really need to get that exposure on, I'll have two packs running at the same time in a scene this large. So that really helps. I think that'll be good. Yeah, we'll see what happens once we actually start throwing things. How are we front to back, so if you look at, shoot my hand which has a lot of texture in the back. Let's take a big look at my hand. And the reason I, the reason I wear this ring, it's not just because I'm married but I can actually see how stainless steel reflects in the light. I can see where the stray Asians are, it's kind of a good look. Yeah it looks like we're pretty good on focus here. Wow that's a big hand. Awesome. You can actually see some of the reflection in the copper. In the stockpot, which is here. Yes. So a quick question because you mentioned the focus of the hand, that was from Kyle Hibbits, how exactly are you finding the focal plane? The focal plane for this, I shoot, so I feel like for F16 this stockpot, I feel like accurately represents. It just happens to be that way, it actually represents the depth of field. This is just from experience of F16 from this far away. I mean this is my starting setup so I know it pretty well. Generally speaking if I can have this flash, the majority of it go within the range of the stockpot I'm good. So what I did is I kinda turned the stockpot so that this will be sort of a third of the way into that and if this nub right here was sharp, and it's easy to focus on because there's a lot of contrast, it sticks out, it's not a flat surface, so we can tell if it's sharp a little bit easier. If I focus even just a little bit into the scene, maybe not all of the way into it, a third into the scene, but a little bit, it gives me much more depth of field than if I focus right on the front of the plane. And then the stuff in the back would really start to fall out. With F16 you have some wiggle room but it's not infinite. You will get blurry, and I'm really a stickler about front and back sharpness. Because if you try to composite something that's not sharp front to back, it looks bizarre. And I've shot where we just dropped strawberries in the back and just shot them for post production, and we tried to bring them forward in the frame. Looks awful. See one thing you can't do, is shoot something further back and bring it forward and also if you shoot something for to put in later in PhotoShop, you can't shoot it over here and then decide later it wants to be in the middle. Because it will look weird. Your eye will pick up on it. It knows what things should look like, and even with edge lighting where it is sort of homogenous, it still shows up in a heart beat. You can't do it. You could flip it, and then move it to the side and get away with it, but one thing I see all the time with splash photography is they'll bend splashes, and they'll tilt splashes. And what you're doing when you tilt a splash is changing the way the light is hitting the splash. So any time you bend something, or rotate it you've already, it's something you should have done in camera if you could do it. Now most of the time, you just have to do that. You can kind of get away with it. It's one of the reasons I do edge lighting, is because it is flippable. It's the same on both sides. So there's more room for error as opposed to just doing it from above, you can't flip something upside down. Whereas this I can flip it. So it gives me a lot of flexibility, not just the great texture but flexibility in post production.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with RSVP

Food In Motion Lighting Setups

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Capturing Food In Motion Gear List

Ratings and Reviews


This course is so fun to watch! I love how hands-on this course is even while watching it 3000 miles away on the other side of the country. I love how Steve Hansen is like a mad scientist just throwing food everywhere just to capture the "right moment". It's great to watch a professional at work especially the behind-the-scenes that we normally won't ever know just by look at the final product. It's amazing how much work goes into this and actually gets me excited to try my hands on capturing food in motion as well - first need to find a place that allows me to get it messy :D I do prefer this type of course set up than the lecture-style some of the other courses are.

Christy cwood56

This course will NOT disappoint! So much quality info that can really help a photographer move to the next level. To see the actual shoots with food flying everywhere and how to capture all of it and turn it into an incredibly stunning image is worth every penny of the price tag. To spend an afternoon with Steve on a one to one basis would cost more than most of us could afford but that is exactly what this class offers! We see into the mind of an incredible artist and his creative process. This class has been invaluable to my personal education as a photographer. There is so much here and I will continually come back to it again and again to learn and refine my techniques and images. You opened up a world of possibilities to me with this class! Thanks Steve!!!

a Creativelive Student

I attended this class in person and I found it to be wonderful. Steve is awesome at what he does and he is great at explaining what he is doing and why he is doing it. This course will lay out all the steps needed to help you create awesome splash and crash photography. I highly recommend it.

Student Work