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High-Speed Photography: Capturing Motion

Lesson 4 of 15

Shoot: Glass Object with Flash

Clay Patrick McBride

High-Speed Photography: Capturing Motion

Clay Patrick McBride

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Lesson Info

4. Shoot: Glass Object with Flash

Lesson Info

Shoot: Glass Object with Flash

We're not gonna start with that, we're just gonna start with this Perrier bottle, right? And we're just gonna talk about a glass object and how it photographs. And the mistakes, no light from the back right now. Can we just get out tethered computer? Yes, thank you. Cool. So, we framed pretty well, there, Chris? Yeah, I think it looks nice. Okay, you wanna shoot one? I'm not sure what it's reading right now, but just-- Sure. Let's try one more. (beeping) Okay, cool. So this is a conundrum with water, right? When we look at this, or a water glass, shiny objects, things of this nature. Right, what do we see when we look at this picture? What do we think? It's kinda dead, right? It doesn't have any sort of-- it just looks flat. It looks terrible, right? And why? Because it's being lit from the front right now, right? All the light's coming from here. So alls I'm going to do is I'm gonna kill this guy for a second. Killing my front light entirely, I'm gonna go to my back light. Gon...

na fire this one up. And now we're gonna be 100% lit from the back. Lemme just turn that model on, too, 'cause it doesn't really matter for us right now, Chris. Mm hmm. Okay. Okay, give it to me. Alright, woah, right? Entirely different object. Can we just see them side by side? Right, so, in order for-- you know, glass behaves differently than a lot of other things. Glass is a little bit like smoke, right? It needs to be-- light needs to shine through it. It needs to luminesce, right, for it to have that sexy, powerful line. Now, what we're doing here is kind of classic, is this-- what is that, Chris? You can call that black line. Yeah, classic black line. I was talking about this dot right here. Oh. But this classic black line around the edge, you know this would be called your classic "black line setup" that we-- you know, in every school I've taught, we've always taught how to photograph glass and reflective things, right? Because they behave differently. So what you wanna look for is a situation where you can backlight them. I chose this just so we can look at our flash duration, right? So, Chris, while I'm cutting up these lemons, right, I'd like you to pull this glass a little bit too far forward, or actually, push it too far back and shoot another one and just compare them. Yeah. And I'll be over here food styling 'cause I'm a decent photographer and an average food stylist, but, you know, depending on the budget, I wear many hats. And I think it's really good to be your own prop stylist before you hire a prop stylist, you know what I mean? Just so you can understand how much work it is, or, you know, to be your own fashion stylist and understand how it could go so wrong, you know, and then work with a good fashion stylist and be like, "Oh, yeah." How's it looking? Compare those two, Chris. Talk about that. What are we looking at there? What I look at, mostly, is the edge on the actual bottle itself. When you zoom into this one right here, when it's a little bit too close to the background, the light really wraps around the luminescing object and it sort of gets lost in there. It looks flat. You see how there's no black line there, right? See how the black line has been entirely lost, people? Right, so in this shot, the only difference is that the glass has-- and just show them how you've walked it up forward. Make sure they get it up on camera. Yeah, do you guys see that? And that's really the difference of just a few inches there. This is about where we were before, and then this is where we ended up just a moment ago. So it's not very far at all, but it does make a tremendous difference. Yeah, and, like, whenever you're photographing a cocktail or something like that, you know, if you could get some light through it, you know, it's gonna help you. Could we get that, there's that one little, I don't know, did you get that booger off? I got the thing off, is it still there? Yeah. Alright, good. How are the lemons and limes coming? Oh, it smells fresh like a daisy, Chris, thanks for asking. Coming through, coming through. Alright. So, I don't know, what I'm doing here is I'm using this skewer, right, to just kind of stage some fruits together, like, so they don't fall apart when I want to stack them on top of each other, right? Just kinda, you know, doing something like this that's impossible, see? Right, just 'cause one thing I learned from, I used to study a lot of still life photographers and they'd-- can I get a knife again? Mm hmm. And they taught me so much about these weird little things, so even if you're working for photography, you're like, "I don't like this guy's work," or, "I don't want to shoot food," right, there's still so much to learn from just watching somebody work, you know? And seeing them solve problems. So, and they always had, so-- Dee, could you come up and grab that plastic bag from me? And let's go with, like, and just wrap that head a little bit for me? Yeah, from the front backward, yep. Great, thank you. So around this... Yeah, you're gonna go from the front back. So lots of plastic bags when I work with water on set. And you really want to be careful here, like, I can't stress that enough. How's my composition there, Chris, how's it looking? Modern. Modern. Is my water bottle being dwarfed by my... I would take out maybe that back lemon, the half one. This one? No, the one next to it. This one, okay. Alright. Alright. So why am I doing this? I'm doing this, really, so-- do we want one over here? Yeah, that could be nice. Okay, and tuck it, maybe, here? Yeah, okay. I mean, we could spend all day styling lemons, but we just wanna look at flash duration right now. Alright, so I'm wrapping up this head really well, I'm gonna turn this light on. Now I'm gonna light a little bit from the front, a little bit from the back. Somebody's gonna ask me if this plastic bag is gonna affect the light, or their wondering how mine, and I think it's gonna make the light beautiful. (laughs) Um, yeah, I'll turn the monolight off. So, we're, I'm gonna crank these guys all the way up right now. Gonna take them, if you look, can I get a camera right up here? Something right up here. Can you get in this guy? Want me to tilt that? There's a freeze mode here, right? I'm gonna turn the freeze mode off so I'm not operating at the lowest flash duration. That's my model, settings. Can you turn off the back light too, Chris? Mm hmm. So I'm turning my freeze mode to normal, not using the-- and I'm gonna crank these lights up as far as they'll go. You want this maxed out as well? Yeah, but we'll have to pull it back, probably a bunch. Straight back. Mm hmm. My back light's killing me right now. You want me to bring it back? Well, we can't bring it back any more, but, lemme just see one more here. Do you have any-- Adjustments? Yeah, on this light? Nothing on exposure. Nothing on exposure? How come we've lost all our black line from the back, Chris? 'Cause it's very, very powerful, so it's blowing everything. This is at 10 now. Some neutral density would be great for us, which I have in the other room on my neutral density world. Sure. In the bag? Yeah, in that big bag. If you would just go dig around in there. You got it. Right on, so I'll just try to tweak while Chris is working on this. And, also, let's talk about, through what you're asking for, what it is and how it's gonna change things. Yeah, neutral density is just like a gray gel that is used just to subtract light, right? So I want this light to be at maximum power so I have the slowest flash duration, right? So, and it's still too bright. Like, I'm at 32 and it's still over-exposing my light, so I just wanna knock it back a couple stops, you with me? You know, sometimes if you wanna put a light 'cause you like the quality of the light wicked close, you want to shoot it F2 or something like that and the light's too bright for you, you throw a little bit of neutral density on there and it'll help you out. Great, yup, thank you. And sometimes, Clay, would you put-- it's interesting. When I think neutral density, I think a filter for your camera-- Yeah, you can put it in front of your lens. It operates in front of your lens, too. It's just a gray filter. A lot of people use them when they want to shoot, even video outside. You need to be at 1/125th of a second, right, to shoot your video, right? So, yeah, good question. Just hold that up on the back light. And you might have mentioned it, but I'll reiterate. Is that a one stop, two stop? It looks to me like a one stop, and we're doubling it, so we're trying to get two stops. Was it up there that time? Nope, I was showing it to you. Okay, right on. Let me swing this light out of the equation for a second. Alright, now give me a single layer of it. Alright, and take it away. Let's just balance one light at a time. I'm making that mistake that I was talking about yesterday where people don't-- people just throw up a bunch of lights and they start shooting and they don't understand what each light's doing. So I'm rewinding here a little bit. Yeah, do you want to get a reading on this, Clay? Was the black line when it was closer or further away? When it's a little bit further away. So where it is right now. Correct. Okay. Right on. Alright, lemme just go here. Doing a little bracket, alright. Does that look like we're getting the black line we had before? Yeah, that's starting to get there. Okay. Lemme see that ND and we're gonna put it on this light, please. You got it. Can I get a couple pieces of tape? Mm hmm. One more giant one there, maybe two more. Mm hmm. Thanks. Alright. Yeah, you can take a look here, Clay. It's not as dramatic just because I think that light is so much more powered up, but you're getting a similar effect. I'm just gonna punch the whites in this one and that should help. Okay, cool. Let's add this light. Give me a shot. You're not on freeze in the back either, right? Nope. Okay. Alright. Cool, that's bringing things back into reality. Alright, and let me just see if this fill card helps us out over here. Yeah, just a little bit. Still looks a little bit bright. Could you bring it down and put some love on that equation? Yeah. Alright, you ready? Yup. Give me a fire, too. Alright. Yeah, it's looking a lot nicer. Okay, with the card? Beautiful. I think I'll raise this light up slightly and maybe we'll go with the silver card over there. Cool, so I'm gonna start splashing it now and we're gonna look at the water, right? So now we're at the slow flash duration for this pack, which is what, we said one, 1,600? Somewhere around there. Okay, cool. So I'm gonna need somebody-- could somebody just hold this card in over here? Doug, would you mind doing that, just jumping up over here? Just look at it with the silver side. Yeah, you can come this way. About there. And if you get tired, you can take a seat on the apple box. Yeah, yeah, bring it right into set. Yeah, and let's just see one with it there. I think I might need you to hold it right there. Alright, thanks, my man. Usually in a still-life situation I never have a person hold a card in, I usually use a stand. Can I see the white side, please? Can you make it a little bit darker, Chris? Mm hmm. Alright, cool. I'm liking that. Alright. So I know there's some little highlights here. We got a highlight from the card that's not so beautiful, and some highlights here which, in a perfect world, I would be spending a great deal of time altering all these highlights, getting rid of them, tweaking them. I might throw a go-between card between my light and the spot, like, just a little black card to cut that highlight out. But, really, I'm not shooting the most gorgeous still life right now as much as I'm trying to illustrate the idea of... You're at 1/200th of a second? 250th. Okay, cool. And you're going to operate it from the camera? I can do either. I'm gonna turn off my models just 'cause. Sure. I'm blocking all this... That's alright. We're not using the laser for this one. Yup, the laser's not working right now. Just using the shutter speed and we're just gonna look at splashing right now. So you ready, Chris? Let's see what the recycle's like. (camera shutter) You might be jumping it. Shoot. Slower. Sure. I'm gonna turn down the drive. This is on continuous right now. Yeah, take the drive off. So he's jumping the recycle there. It's taking, like, a second or two to recycle. He needs to stay away from that. Slower. Wait, wait for the beep. Got it. The beep will tell us when it's recycled. Fire once. See how long that recycle is? Okay, at full power, strobes recycle slower. Great, okay. Alright. Hit it. (water splashing) Let me get my splash right here, my rain. Alright, cool. Alright, great, let's just scrub through them and see when we find a good one. Sure. Clay? Yes? When you're making a shot like this, just a question, kind of, from over here. When you're making a shot like this, will you potentially combine two or three shots to-- Oh, yeah, absolutely, I mean, I'm not a still life photographer and I'm not doing splashes but I think in this world where you're really trying to make everything look so perfect, it's all about compositing. It really is, you know? So, it this a good looking one? Alright, this is great to look at. You see all these streaks, right? You guys seeing this, right? This is not what we're talking about, right? This is not the thing that we-- we're not getting the most out of this unit right now, right? So Chris, let's go to freeze mode on the back. Mm hmm. I might need a refill on this water. Alright, you're on freeze. Yep, we want to dial down the power now. Sure. Let's go down to about five. Anybody remember the five power setting, the sweet spot that I said I was gonna look at today? Was it about a 20,000th of a second? What did you say? A 16,000th of a second? Okay, cool, right on. Thanks for the memory there. Alright. Coming in tighter with the light. Alright. And actually, Chris, just come in here, before you even do that, I got that for a second. Can you just come in here and just look around. Let's zoom all the way in there and just look at those splashes, right? Maybe even throw a star on this one. Come in the bottom where it's really hitting the ground? Yep, yep. You see this business? This is like an FG as I would say, right? So we're going to make it better. Let's see what we could do about exposure and about getting a better exposure. I'm taking off all this ND now. Oops, I almost forgot... Yeah, that's alright. It's probably gonna wanna come up even if-- Yeah, yep. I'm on five, on five. You can open up the F stop all the way. Yeah. That's looking a lot nicer. Yep, lemme get that squeegee across the back, too. Is there a squeegee over there? Yup. So I'm just gonna squeegee off some of the water from this background. Uh huh, and how are we for water over there? It seems like it's staying pretty dry? I got this guy a little bit wet. Can I get a paper towel? He's got it right where the squeegee was, do you see those? Paper towels, please. Alright. Just throwing a little paper towel on this guy so he doesn't get wet. He'll be used for the balloons. We have balloons on standby, correct? Okay great. Many. Card's coming in, let's get rid of this thing for a second, Chris. Just take this away. Alright, I might need another small thing of water, we have that on standby? Thank you. Yay, team, you guys rock. Yeah. You're as good as your crew. These guys holding me down 'cause I'm the flakiest man in the world. Tighten up, Clay. Focus. Don't stand in front of the light. Yes, Chris, give us an exposure, see if we're in the ballpark. Alright. Alright, a little hot. I'll bring it down a little bit. Yeah, I'm gonna pivot this constellation too. Alright. Ooh, oh, okay. Lemme get this guy in here, yeah, okay, cool. Give it to me again. A little bit darker, or is this just the screen? It's that one lemon, eh? That diabolical lemon's just getting banged from the light, so I'm rotating it out, that one lead lemon. Just pivoting it. Ready? Yeah, sure. Yeah, cool. And I'm just gonna come down a little bit on this. How's our black line right now, Chris? Let's take a look. Give me one more. Oh, wait! It's alright, I'm just looking at exposure. I'm coming up to split that difference. Okay, one more please. I think that looks pretty good, there's separation. Okay, cool. So we're just gonna look at the splashing now at completely different flash duration. Where's my giant spoon, I lost that. Okay, here we are. Alright. Am I good, out of the light? Everyone with me? You see how it kinda took me a minute to find the right splash there, too? I think it was like, I was actually pouring over here to splash into the shot, so it was like a bank shot. Everyone good? Camera's not getting wet? Nope, ready? Okay, let's hear the flash duration. (camera click) See how quick it is now? Chris, why don't you go on the burst mode this time? Oh, you got it. Spray and pray, we're gonna do a little spray and pray right now, which is like a way I roll sometimes where you just try to get lucky. I just don't like this lemon in the front, lookin' doody. Let me do a little tweaking. Alright, we're better there. Yeah, sure, I'll live with that. Maybe something here. Lemme see one more. Sure, okay. Alright, ready? Ready. (camera clicking) (water splashing) (spoon clattering) Cool. That felt great. Alright. Coming in, coming in, coming in. Alright, let's scrub through, see where we got lucky. Let me know when you see one you like, Clay. These look kinda nice. Yeah. Yeah. I like the one you-- yeah, somewhere in there. Can we just see the water at the bottom, see it coming through the shot? Right on. Doug, you can have a seat down. Maybe strike those lemons from my set, Doug, if you wouldn't mind. Great. Could you compare that to where we were before? Sure. Did we just back-focus on the glass more and not focus on the foreground? Yeah, it's focused on the glass right now, so it does have a very deep depth of field. Uh huh, alright, let's just front-focus on the lemons a little bit so we got it a little bit more in the front, if you would, Chris. Yeah, just focus that up, yeah, we're gonna use that once more. Yeah, just focus in right about here. There we go, yep. Cool. Ready? Mm hmm. Go. (camera clicking) Alright, I'm feeling that, okay, cool. I think that's a better place for us to be. I like the one dribbling straight down, let me just see that one. Yes, okay. Yeah. Alright, can you compare that little bit to the other little bit from our other five-star shot? Great, right on. Yep, Doug, you can come down and take the lemons with you. Just throw them up on my pedestal over there. Right, are you guys seeing the difference here, right? Alright, so, we definitely want to be at this bottom part of the pack. Right on, so we're gonna do the balloons now and really drill down on this idea and use the sweet spot of our flash. But can we just scrub around down there and just show me a couple more frames, if you would? Sure. A couple more frames or different parts of this one? No, a couple more frames. I just wanna see the water a little bit. Have you left, Doug? Could you squeegee, Doug? Squeegee the set, squeegee the back off for me, thanks so much. Actually, let's go with one of those fanny, big, yes. How about this one? Yeah, is it tight, is it in focus? I'm looking at the fanny, big spread up top there. Yeah. This starts to look great for me, right? You know what I mean? That's the sort of magic and the weird thing-- the depth of field gets a little bit shallow here, but we're gonna work with it. You'll definitely see the sweet spot of it. Alright, so take all that, take that whole set with you. Can I get that board? Yeah. Clay, when you're doing these kind of setups, when do you find yourself behind the camera and when do you find yourself preferring to work the creative? Yeah, I don't know. I think we're all working as one. You know what I mean? So I see no difference if he's firing the camera, it's like we're all-- you know, I just don't want to crawl around on my hands in front of a live audience and look and frame and focus this camera. Right? So, you know, his young legs and body can do that and I don't have to show my heinie to the world. Teaching mode. Yeah, so it really depends, I mean, it really depends, but I think with the lemons and stuff like that, I would have a really hard time telling Chris what the hell I wanted. So let's get the paper towel out over there. Alright, and I've devised this really, kind of crafty rig with the C stand arm coming down. We're gonna bring into effect and play our laser. Yeah. I'm gonna come over. Can you get me that thing of balloons over there Chris? Yeah, you got it. Right on.

Class Description

The ability to freeze a moment of time can show power, emotion and detail. Learn how to utilize high speed flash duration to create powerful images in a fraction of a second. Through a variety of examples, Clay Patrick McBride will have you experimenting with your photography in a new way. He’ll explain:

  • High Speed Syncing techniques
  • T1 and T2 Flash Duration
  • How to capture the tiniest of details like water droplets or dust
  • Different trigger techniques depending on your unique setup



I enjoyed Clay's workshop, he is very methodical, and had clear simple explanations for the various shoots. I am excited to experiment with different lighting because he made it seem easy. As he mentioned "start small and make it bigger, bigger, bigger. Thanks!

joanne duncan

I agree with Alison, i think this could have been so much better. Too much tampering around on set, i like the small talk and the model talks, love his presence, very charismic, the only thing that kept me watching although i did fast forward some bits. just too slow and not much info.


Watched it live, I thought it had lots of great info. Hoping to buy it soon.