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Splash Photography Gear

Lesson 2 from: Capturing Food in Motion

Steve Hansen

Splash Photography Gear

Lesson 2 from: Capturing Food in Motion

Steve Hansen

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Lesson Info

2. Splash Photography Gear

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The topic of the lesson is capturing food in motion through splash photography gear.


  1. What are some containers that can be used for creating splashes in splash photography?

    Plastic watering cans, rectangle containers, and wine glasses can be used to create different types of splashes.

  2. How can a hose be used in splash photography?

    A hose can be connected to a water main to create rain or to fill aquarium tanks.

  3. What are some techniques for creating splashes?

    Random problem solving and trial and error are common techniques in creating splashes.

  4. What camera equipment does the instructor use for splash photography?

    The instructor uses a D800E camera and the tilt-shift lens series for their photography.

  5. How does the instructor protect their lens during splash photography?

    The instructor uses a clear UV filter and a lens hood to protect their lens from splashes.

  6. What flash equipment does the instructor use?

    The instructor uses a Broncolor Scoro pack and PocketWizards to trigger their flashes.

  7. What settings does the instructor use for their flashes?

    The instructor uses a flash duration of 8,000th of a second and adjusts the power settings of their strobes as needed.

  8. What other flash equipment can be used for splash photography?

    SB910 flashes from Nikon or Canon can be used for capturing quick action in splash photography.

Lesson Info

Splash Photography Gear

All right, we're over at the gear station. And I'm gonna go into the camera equipment and the flashes that I use for splash photography. But I'm gonna go over some of the rigging stuff and some of the containers that I use for getting that perfect splash. So, I guess we'll start right to left here. This is a fairly specialized piece, but if you see up there, we have a water main that comes down over the studio, and we can actually connect a hose to that main and turn it on, fill aquarium tanks, fill certain things. I can actually plug in this hose to this unit and actually create rain over a set if I want. You don't have to have it, it just happens to be convenient. It's always good to have liquids flowing from high to low. And so this is just kind of a cool little technique. I don't use it too often. I had to do a milk rain shot, and to get that, I actually used a colander, I put two colanders on top of one another and then I poured milk into it while I was shaking it. And that actual...

ly created really nice droplets of milk. So a lot of it's just random problem solving using anything you have on hand. You need a lot of these cups, a lot of these containers. For actually doing pours, I really prefer these containers. They're just plastic watering cans you can get on Amazon. There is a gear list I believe, associated with this class that'll show you these. This actually just creates a really nice, controlled pour. You can see the pour begin down the spout and you'll have an idea of when it's gonna happen, so you have a little bit more control with these. If you want to create a splash like the donut shot I showed, that had the really nice stream and the kinds of peaking splashes coming out of that stream, I'll use either a rectangle container or I'll use a wine glass. They produce completely distinct shapes. And sometimes I'll just toss it. A lot of the times I'll actually drag it through the scene. It just depends what you're looking for. And a lot of this is trial and error. Over time you'll see the twists that you make with your arm, how they create different splashes. What you don't want to do is to create a splash that goes against your focal plan. So when I'm shooting, I have a certain spot that's sharp. I'm shooting at F16, which is a good happy medium between allowing light in and also giving you enough room to work. So you'll end up invariably having to toss in a straightforward motion. So this is a good container that I use. I use a wine glass a lot, that will kinda create a nice little classic-- The wineglass really creates a lot of the splash looks that you see in a lot of advertisements. The shape of the glass matters. So you just fill it maybe a third of the way and fling it. What was in there? Glass. Did I get you? Oh, for real? Yeah. Oh wow, sorry Jack (laughs). So you need a lot of buckets. And you need a lot of protection plastic. Painter's plastic's really good, heavy duty painter's plastic is good. And I'll show you that on a set. So hoses, containers for throwing things. This is actually a hand pump. I have a mechanical pump that I use as well, but I got this at Home Depot for, I think 15 bucks. And it's just two D batteries in here. And it'll suck liquids out of a glass into a bucket, pretty much all the way down to the bottom. So if you want to get rid of beer that's in a glass, if you want to get rid of something that's in a container that can't move on set, if you're doing a composite and the glass has to stay put, this is actually a really cheap method of getting rid of liquids that are in a vessel that you can't move. So, safety goggles. I'm not gonna be wearing these, but you can. In fact, Jack shoulda been wearing 'em like a minute ago, I coulda killed him. (students laughing) (laughs) Here you go. So, these are actually squeegees, I forgot about these. Squeegees I use all the time. What happens is, when you do your primary splash, unless your background's big enough and far enough away, you just got a little bit of liquid on your background. You also got tons of liquid on your surface. So we're gonna actually live dangerously and use-- No we're not, we're using the copper surface. I was gonna use a wood surface. I use copper Dibond a lot and stainless steel Dibond a lot for surfaces 'cause it's light, but it looks like stainless steel. So you don't have to purchase stainless steel, have the weight of stainless steel. So I'll show you the surface that I'm using. But when after you do a shoot, you can just use a squeegee just to get rid of all the liquid and you have a really nice, clean surface to work from again. So it's crucial to get the shot within the first few frames, otherwise you're gonna start to get a messy set and you will lose your ability to composite that set because you'll have to change and wipe down and invariably things will move during the shoot. So that's essentially, you know we have the basic things like the color-checker. And as far as lenses and camera bodies, I use the D800E, I like that camera, it's the camera that I use always. I tend to upgrade every other body style that comes out, but I love the sensor on that camera. And I use the entire series of the tilt-shift lenses. I don't need the tilt-shift in these lenses when I'm actually shooting liquids. I tend to be shooting straight-on, I want a very parallel plain of focus. so I just happen to like the way that these collect, these just have amazing glass. I mean, these have a really wide circle and they tend to have corner-to-corner sharpness without a lot of interference. It's a very flat, perfect image that these create. So, for actual splashes and crashes, I will use either the 45 if I'm living dangerously and I wanna get close, and I love the drama that getting close gives you, but you're gonna get stuff on your lens unless it's perfectly protected. So I'll show you how to protect the front of your lens once I get over to the camera. So, let's actually do that. So this is pretty much covered, so I'm gonna go over. We have Jack on Digiteching, he's got the Wacom tablet, a PC laptop, oh my God. (laughs) And then we have the camera, which I just had covered for the watermelon shot, but this I tend to leave wide open. I'm not afraid to get the camera dirty. I clean it myself and I clean it a lot. I do have to send my lenses in for cleaning because those will get gunk inside of them and they will jam up. So it tends to be my aperture ring jams up well before anything else does, and my focus ring. So they'll open that and clean it up and get it nice and perfect and ship it back to you. It takes some time, though. I'm considering getting two sets of these, but they're expensive. You can get away with fixed focal length lens. I love the focal length lenses. But you definitely want one that doesn't have a lot of-- I don't tend to use zoom lenses because you will bump the zoom, and if you bump the zoom, it's all over. You'll be shooting, unless you have a digital tech, there'll be things you will miss and there will be focal issues. So, what I have on here, is a Lee Lens Hood. I described a lot of this in my other class, Introduction to Food Photography. But this is different because I use the lens hood not to protect the camera from light, which is a problem because the camera lens will see the strip boxes I have here, but I just have a clear UV filter in here, and this protects the lens from any splashes. Splashes are going to hit your lens and you want to be prepared for it. Because this, you'll notice, has a lot of milk inside of it. So I have to clean this out almost every shoot. And these run, I think they're about $400 for the filter, I'm not 100% sure about that, but it is on the gear list. This just snaps to your camera, so what you have is dual protection. You have protection from light, you have protection from liquid actually touching the UV filter, and if, God forbid, something goes right in, you're protected as well. So that really covers all your bases in that regard. Today we're shooting the 85mm PCE. We've got PocketWizards that are triggering a Broncolor Scoro pack. And it's gonna be hard to kinda see this, but I am gonna go over my Scoro settings right now. You'll notice on the LCD screen, through the camera, that I have one uno-light and one pulso-strobe. These are kinda older models, but they do have newer versions of these. And these are being triggered by a Broncolor Scoro pack, which has quite a bit of power. Occasionally, I'll need two of these packs. 'Cause if you wanna have a really nice, airy light background, you need a lot of power because, if you want to shoot with a deep depth of field, you're gonna be sacrificing flash-power. Having dual packs sometimes really helps in that regard. Having a dual strobe on each pack really gives you a lot of power, but for this set, this is always more than enough. The only time I need two is when I'm going into bigger scenarios. So I'll go into flash durations really quick. There's a big difference between T1 and T.5 flash durations. It's something you have to watch out for. A lot of manufacturers will say that their T. 10,000th of a second flash duration or something, but the one that really matters in the T1 flash duration. And you want it to be at 8,000th of a second. Every time I shoot below that, I'm getting a little bit of blurriness in the splashes. So it's not the shutter speed of my camera that's capturing the action at all. My shutter speed's 250th of the second, which is the flash sync speed of my camera. If you go any faster than that, like 500th of a second, the dark portion of your image will be blurry. And it'll actually be the shutter not closing fast enough for the shutter speed, so it's important to have your shutter speed at 250. I'm on F16 right now, at 250th of a second, with a flash duration of 8,000th of a second, and my power on the two strobes is 4.4 and 3.0, which is just the denominations that Broncolor uses for their power packs. But you kinda mess around. What you'll do is, you'll go into the settings, and it'll have a setting for your flash duration, and you bring it all the way down to minimum flash duration, and it'll tell you, based on your power settings, what flash duration you're currently executing. And so you bring your power down on both strobes until you achieve 8,000th of a second. And when you do, you just stop there 'cause that'll be the most power you can get. And then from there, you can make creative decisions. Do I want it to be even moodier? Do I wanna change my modifiers? 'Cause you don't have to use just strip lights. You can actually use just the bare bulbs with two snoots on to get a really dramatic effect. That's a very similar effect to what you would get with two SB900s, which I did forget to show you. Or 910s. I am a Nikon shooter, but Canon makes really good flashes as well. These are the SB910s, and I don't know if this is 100% true, but on low power, I think these things shoot 130,000th of a second on the lowest power. But it is really low power. Regardless of that, they do shoot in a really short flash duration, so you will be able to achieve really quick action with these. You have to get 'em in really close, so this would be great for the macro shots I was talking about. If you have a scene where you have a piece of cake and you just want to smash it on the ground or something silly like that, and you have two of these, or even just one of these and a white card, if you're shooting at medium to low power, you're gonna capture some amazing action. It's gonna be a dark background because these don't have a big spread of light. They have some spread. But I would actually recommend snooting these further using gaffer tape and just creating your own snoot, and putting two side-by-side, or even just one, and just throwing stuff in front of it just to practice, just to practice your throwing technique, and you'll get some great images out of it. So these are very useful, too. It's the strobes that are in the middle that tend to not perform well. There are some that are moderately expensive, they'll have like T.5 flash durations of 8,000th of a second, but it just doesn't work out that way, it's more like 4,000th of a second. And you can't capture sharp liquid action doing just that.

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