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One Flash Splash Photography

Lesson 4 of 11

Super Basic Splash with Black Background – Part 2

Gavin Hoey

One Flash Splash Photography

Gavin Hoey

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Lesson Info

4. Super Basic Splash with Black Background – Part 2
Using the same set-up, create a simple action sequence by shooting multiple shots and combining them together into a single image inside of Photoshop

Lesson Info

Super Basic Splash with Black Background – Part 2

once you've got the basic idea, you want to try and improve it. And in this case I'm going to take the same basic splash that we did last time and give it a twist and twist is going to be to show an action, sequence a sequence of images with the ice cube in mid air, the ice cube splashing and the ice cube at the bottom of the glass. That means I need to take multiple images. So first thing to do is to set up your glass with the liquid in and use something like a little bit of blue tax. So I've got a couple of tiny, tiny bits of blue tack. I'm not going to blue tack down the glass because you just won't, it will always move. But I am going to put these behind the glass on the tile. So I've got a reference point, which means I can kind of get the glass back in roughly the same position even if it does move and when you drop an ice cube in it will move. It's just how it goes. The first shot I want to do is to take a picture of that, make sure I can't see the blue tack in the shot and have...

a clean reflection below. So the minute I drop anything in this is always going to be big and splashy. Once we've got that I'm then going to take my splash picture. So this is no different to what we did before. Let's just take a few pictures like this and so you can get a really good splash. Here we go. Yeah, I mean that worked. That was quite a big splash. We put it back to where the blue tack is because it's moved a fair bit. The ice cave out. Yeah, try again. Mm The wetter, the tile gets, the more it floats around, which makes the blue tax super useful. That's pretty good. Maybe we'll go one more of those as it's getting less and less water in there. Mhm. Okay, here we go. Let's try that. Here we go. I think there's a tiny bit late with that. One thing I wanted to be a little bit earlier. Yeah, I was definitely a little bit on the late side so let's so we can get that just a little earlier. Mhm. The more you do with these, the more critical you become of your performance of nailing the right splash. No, and of course now I don't really have enough liquid in there. Oh this is the way it works sometimes don't worry, add a bit more liquid and go again again. The blue tack. Really really helpful because this glasses sliding all over the place but I'm managing to get it back in more or less the same place every single time. Yeah, and that looks pretty good. I like that. We got a nice splash. Okay we've got a selection of splashes to choose from. So now I need one more picture of the ice cube in mid air. This is actually a little bit harder than you might imagine because I need to drop it onto here and we're gonna get a splash but I have to actually press it early. Um Yeah this is harder than it sounds. So when you've been training your your reflexes to get the splash to suddenly have to go early it's really difficult. And see did I get it early? I did absolutely perfect. So we have an ice cube in mid air, we have a splash and we have a clear base. So I'm gonna bring those images together to create one. I'm going to do that inside of Photoshop. So now I've had a chance to look at the photos and actually I've got four, not the three I thought at the time. So I've got my clean drive base picture. Then I've got this one which is, and not a particularly good splash that there's nothing wrong with the splash. It's fine except the thing I really like about this one and I didn't notice at the time was I've got this little most circular area of no water and inside it is the ice cube because I've got the ice cube in situ towards the bottom of the glass. So I thought that was a good one. I'll add that in as well. I've got the splash that I want to add in and of course I've got the mid air ice cube. So I've actually got four images to work on, not three. So hey, a little bit more work, That's fine. The image I'm most interested in is the one with the best splash, which I think was this one. So this is the splash I want to use. You can see it's nice and crisp and sharp and detailed. That looks lovely. So that's gonna be my background image, my base image and onto that. I'm going to add the other three. So let's get the okay for, let's go with this one. We'll start with this image here with the ice cube sort of in the glass. I'm just gonna select it all and then go to edit and copy and then I can close it down. I don't need it anymore. It's done its job and then choose edit and paste. So that's going to paste it on. Now obviously I said that I got blue tack and you can almost, you can actually just about see a little bit of the blue tack there. I'm not gonna worry too much about that, but you can see that I'm using the same reference point in this shot. So this should be in more or less the same place. So when I flick through you can see that the glass doesn't really move a huge amount. I mean everything else moves. There's a lot of change of liquid and so on. But the glass is staying relatively the same position, but relatively is not quite good enough. I really do need to be a bit more accurate than that. So what I'm gonna do is just take the opacity down to about 50% or so, it doesn't really matter. And I'm gonna have a closer look at the areas I'm going to combine together, so it's not the top, it's the middle of the glass here, that's going to get my combination and it looks very, very similar, but I can see it's just slightly adrift. It's never going to be absolutely perfect. There's always gonna be imperfections, but I'm going to use the move tool so I've selected the move tool and I'm using the cursor keys just to nudge this one pixel at a time. And I'm just looking at this edge here, just trying to line it up and I reckon that's pretty good. What about down the bottom? So let's use the up down cursor keys and just see how we go here again. You're never gonna get this absolutely right. And it's impossible to get it right. It really is. So don't stress too much about this. Just try and get as close as you reasonably can. For example, I can get it right here but it's clearly not right over there because I've twisted the glass around as well as it moving. I've managed to rotate it a little bit so that's probably about as good as it's going to be Okay, that's fine. So that's close enough. Let's return the opacity to 100% on that one. So now I need to add in the new top to this and we'll leave this bit alone or we'll add in the ice cube at the bottom. It doesn't really matter which way around. You're going to do it. I'm going to add in the ice cube to the top and I do that by applying a layer mask. So I'm gonna go for layer. I'm going to go to layer, mask and hide all. Now hide all. We'll just hide that image I bought in. So you can see on the layers here, we have two layers we have at the bottom, the nice splash. And then above it I have the ice cube at the bottom, but it's hidden by this black layer mask. So black hides things and white on a layer mask reveals things. So we know it's down here somewhere. If I get a paintbrush and I make sure that my foreground color is white, I'm also going to check my hardness is about 50%. I don't want to a soft brush, I don't want a hard brush, I want something in the middle. And if I just click, I will paint white onto this area and I'm gonna paint the ice cube back in. I mean, there you go. And you can see what I've done on the layer mask. I've painted a little white hole, doesn't really look very convincing. So we just need to blend this all together. So this is where there's no secret automatic to this. This is just keep painting and you'll find the liquids will sort of merging together. And if it looks right, it is right, okay. Now, what I'm going to try and avoid is painting off to the edge where there might be a little bit of an overlap. You can kind of see there's an overlap coming here where the things don't line up absolutely perfectly. If you get that, just switch color to the black and paint it back in again. So I'm going to avoid the edge as much as I can and leave the original edge from the original splash photo. So that's why I'm using the slightly harder edged brush just to paint this in. There we go. And that seems to blend in quite nicely. Yeah, okay, so there we go. That gets that circular pattern with the ice cube clear at the bottom. I think that's probably about as good as I can get without getting too close to the edge. Happy with that. Great. Right okay so that's added in the ice cube. Let's add in the falling ice cube next. So the falling ice cube is this one. Now before I add this in I'm going to check is this black background truly and really black? And the way I'm going to do that is have a look at the levels. So let's go to image adjustment and levels and on the levels, hissed a gram here. The black is always on the left hand side. I'm gonna hold the key because I'm on a Pc. Or the option key. If you're on a Mac and click on the little triangle at the bottom of the levels drag in and you should see anything that stays pure black is pure black. So I just need to come in a couple of points. There we go. I'm coming into eight and that will make sure that that back black background stays really black. That was hard to say really make much more sense when we do the next step. So click. Ok and apply that levels adjustment. Okay, lets select the ice cube. I'm just gonna get the rectangular market. It doesn't really matter what. Let's just go grab that area there and then I'll go to edit and copy and I don't need this image anymore. We can close it down. We're not going to save the changes and then I can go back to edit and paste. Every time you paste you get a brand new layer and it pops it right in the middle of the frame as you can see there. So not really ideal because of course this is a falling ice cube. It should be up here somewhere, but even that doesn't really work. So here comes the fun bit. All we need to do now is to blend this with the background behind and because we went to the trouble of ensuring it was pure black behind the ice cube. All I need to do change the layer blending mode, which is currently set to normal. I'm going to change it to screen china and there you go, perfect in the middle of the air plus a couple of extra drips as well and I can put it pretty much anywhere I like so we can have that down there somewhere that looks about right sort of in line. I'm happy with that. Yeah, that's pretty good. Now there are some splashes coming through here. I don't mind those but if they bothered you you could of course just paint them away, clone them out. They will be on this layer here. So that would be the layer to do that on if it bothers you but it doesn't bother me. So I'm leaving them well alone. Okay so we've got an ice cube in the air, we've got an ice cube in the glass. What I'd like is a nice dry base and this is perhaps the most tricky bit because if you didn't take this picture at the start there's no way you're gonna clone out all of this wet bits at the bottom. Now it's just too late. You just have to live with it. But luckily we took a test shot and it wasn't just a test shot, it was a clean dry base shot. So select and all edit and copy and then we can close that down. It's done its job back to edit and paste. So once again this is going to paste it in. Once again, it's going to put it in roughly the right position. That's actually not too bad, you know? That's pretty good. And this time I can't actually I can see a little bit of blue back there, but I can't see it sticking up so I'm happy that I can't see the attack behind the glass. But I'd like to do is make sure that this what I'm going to call it a horizon line. But you know what it is? It was where the edge of the tile stopped. I'm gonna try and make sure that that's in roughly the same position, so same triggers before drop the opacity down, grab yourself the move tool and we'll move things around. Does it look right? It actually looks right. You know, I can always move it and then just undo it if it's not exactly right. But yeah, I mean that looks probably about right. Can nudge it around with the cursor keys, but I'm just gonna undo it. I think I'm going to and do a few steps and do nudge. There we go. We'll just put it back where it was. I think that's fine. I can't really see a problem with that. The Blue tech did its job. Okay. So all we need to do with this one is go back to layer and then layer mask hide all that hides everything. And then we can just come in here and make sure we're working on the layer mask. You can tell you're working on the layer mask. Let me just show you. If I click on the layer itself, you see the little white edges appear. That means the active layer is the image. If I click on the layer mask, then those little white corner bits go around the layer mask, meaning that that is active, which means if I get a paintbrush and it's the opposite color which is white, I can just paint over these areas, dry off the tile as if by magic. Yes, there's plenty of cloning if you want to do some cloning. If you're looking for a cloning job, there's always some cloning to do because there's always some cleaning up to do. I'm not going to do that in this video because I don't think you really want to spend time watching me clone all this out. What you really want to see is the final image. So there we go. That's with all the wet splashes and that's with a nice, clean, dry base. So there we go, we have an action sequence of an ice cube dropping in to the water, creating a splash, settling at the bottom on a beautiful, clean, dry base.

Class Description


  • Capture the hidden beauty and random nature of splashing water.

  • Use a single flash to light shots with both black, and white backgrounds.

  • Find creative ways to combine everyday objects and water.

  • Understand how to enhance splash images in Photoshop.


Photographers are often looking to capture images that are dynamic, exciting, and most importantly unique. If that sounds like you, then this class opens the door to creating eye-catching photos that will never, EVER be the same twice. Best of all you won’t have to leave home to find them and you probably already own everything you need to get started.

Splash photography is the art of taking something as mundane as water pouring from a glass bottle and turning it into an image that’s packed full of stunning detail. Water turns to glass, tiny droplets appear frozen in the air and if it’s done well, the closer you look at a splash photo, the more detail you’ll see.

This class takes Gavin’s years of experience photographing splashes and condenses them down into easy-to-digest segments. Starting with his essential gear, props, and backgrounds, Gavin will help you take your first splash photo. He’ll then grow that knowledge, improve the basic technique, and show you how it can develop into some amazing and colorful splash imagery.


  • Any photographer who’s looking for an exciting and fun photography challenge

  • Students, teachers and photographers who have a water-themed project in mind

  • Photographers who love simple, graphic images that are packed with fine detail

  • Everyone who is big on creativity but limited with gear


Adobe Photoshop CC 2021

Adobe Camera RAW


Gavin Hoey is a freelance photographer, Olympus UK ambassador, and trainer of all things photographic. Primarily focusing on photography education, Gavin was an early YouTube adopter and created a popular photography training channel before joining forces with Adorama in 2012. He’s now the most-watched presenter on AdoramaTV where his videos focus on the art of lighting and portraits. Gavin is still creating at least one video tutorial for AdoramaTV every other week and the channel has grown to 1 million subscribers.

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Photoshop Action – Instant Triptych

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