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One Flash Splash Photography

Lesson 11 of 11

Writing With Water - Photography

Gavin Hoey

One Flash Splash Photography

Gavin Hoey

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Lesson Info

11. Writing With Water - Photography
Full shoot of how to plan and shoot the elements of creating letters made of water

Lesson Info

Writing With Water - Photography

now that we've mastered the basics of how to photograph, not wine coming out of a wine glass. I'm gonna take it up a level by creating actual words written in water. Well I say words, letters really. So I'm going to write the word red. RTD in water from this wine glass. And I'm gonna do it by taking multiple images and then combining them together inside of Photoshop. We'll get to that in a bit now for this to work before you start. The best thing to do is to choose a short word for fairly obvious reasons, I guess. And then write the word down in a way that looks right for the water, which is what I've done here. So I've written down the word red and I've drawn it in a way that kind of makes sense with where I think the water is going to go. And it immediately strikes me that I need a lot of verticals and horizontal is a lot of straight water rather than curved bits of water. So I'm gonna have to work at that and have to work at getting straight lines as well as curves. Which is a litt...

le bit different to what we did before. Other than that pretty much everything is going to be the same, same setup, same lighting, same camera, everything is gonna work in exactly the same way. But I'm gonna have to plan this out and I'm gonna start by trying to get an r at least the bits that make up an art. So let's get the cable, let's sort this out. Let's spin the viewfinder around so I can see clearly what I'm actually doing. That's really good. Okay and here we go. So the first bit of an art I guess is actually gonna be a vertical. So I want just a straight line the back of an are. So there's two ways I guess I could do it the first way would be just to pour water straight down. So if I get this nice and high and like that what I'm trying to do is get it. Actually not so I'm pouring I need a bottom, I need it to end. I don't want it to flow off the bottom of the picture. So timing is kind of critical with this. And yeah that was a little bit short and that looks a little bit too long. So not as easy as you might imagine trying to get a straight line because if it goes out of frame it doesn't really work. Okay so let's try that again. Here we go. And I've been shot. Mhm. Okay. That worked quite well I think. Oh a little bit short. Okay probably that long. We'll try a couple of different ones and in there somewhere we've got one that looks about right, that looks okay. So that's one way I can do a straight line. Okay, We need a curve for the are So let's try that. Here we go. So curves where we've done curves, so this shouldn't be too difficult. Mm hmm. No less messy. However, the message remains the same. That's quite a big curve, but that's not too bad. Okay, let's try that again. Here we go. Right, and one more with a little less water. Mhm. Okay. Yeah, there we go, that's perfect. Okay, we've got what looks like a curve for an art in my mind. I can start to see it building and then I need another straight ish line. So we did it last time by pouring down this time. I'm actually gonna do it by trying to throw the water in a straight upward motion. Here we go. Too high. Went past my boom arm looks pretty good. Let's see. Yeah that's not too bad. I can probably start slightly lower down for that one as well. Okay now there's a good reason for not doing all these straight lines exactly the same. It's because when I put it together I'm gonna want to have wine glasses in the picture as well and if they all start from the same point I'm gonna look a bit say me. So I want some to start from the bottom, some to start from the top of letters, some from the side of letters and so on. So that's pretty much my are done. So now I need to do all of the other letters and for that but it's pretty much the same technique. Lots of straight lines and curves. When I've done that, we've got one more thing to photograph. So let me get all these lines done and I'll be back in a second. Yeah, so that's all my letters done. At least. I hope so. We'll find out in a second when we get to Photoshop. But I'm not done with the photography yet because once again I'm holding the base of the glass in every single shot. My hand and fingers are in it. So I need more pictures of the stem of the glass, the base down here. Now you might think this is gonna be really easy because I'm working against a white background. So surely just one picture will be absolutely fine and we can rotate it around and just stick it wherever it needs to go. And you'd be right. Except of course that would be too easy wouldn't it? Let's make it a little bit more tricky. So what I'm gonna do is actually try and keep that wet feeling going because I'm absolutely soaked doing this. I'm gonna stick the glass into the water and have water running off the base of some of these shots, which means gravity is going to affect where it runs and the angle at which the water comes down. So I can't just have one shot. I'm gonna need to take well quite a lot. So we're gonna try and get these into the middle of my frame which is about here somewhere and get water coming off them. Do something like that. Or tilt some around the other way. Remember when you're photographing this stem? It's only the bottom of the glass I'm interested in and that should do us. Okay, so a couple more of these and I'll get these into Photoshop and we can start making some words. Yeah yeah. Now it's time to bring some of those images together to create something that looks a little bit like words or these letters created out of colored water. There is a little bit of artistic interpretation in here but it should work. Okay now I've done some preparation because you don't wanna watch me doing exactly the same thing in the last video. So I've already processed them in exactly the same way I've drawn in all the white bits covered up where my hands and fingers were. So we're just left with the essential bits because we're going to look at how to construct this into something that resembles letters. So the first thing I'm gonna suggest you do is come to the background layer of whichever one you're going to start with, unlock the background layer by kicking it to remove the padlock and then make sure that your background color is pure white. If it isn't just hit the D. Key on the keyboard that will set it to the default colors. And then I'm gonna get the crop tool make sure that there's nothing in the ratios up here that is completely clear. And then we can just crop out some space. So as I crop I'm gonna get some extra space to work in something like this. Okay that's fine. I can rotate this around a little bit as well. Just get a relatively straight edge because this is gonna be the back of the R. Remember we're gonna make the word red. R. E. D. That's the plan. It's always a good idea to give yourself a lot more space than you think you actually need because you don't really want to start cropping this halfway through and it just gets a bit messy. So I reckon that should be more than enough space. We can always crop in afterwards. Stick on the tick and I'm done. Okay now we obviously have a lot of checkerboard pattern which means there's nothing here. So I'm just gonna go to layer, make a new layer. We call this uh white so we give it a name and I will drag that white layer right to the bottom and then edit and fill it with light with white. Edit and fill with, well it's actually my background color. There we go. Okay so that's a good start we are off and running. Right so what next? Well now I need to go and get another part of the letter. Now. I've already sorted a few of these out just to save us some time. So this is gonna be the front part of the are can you guess why this is going to be the front part of the R. Yeah because it looks like the front of an R. If you take enough photos you will start to see letters or parts of letters forming in your water. It's quite remarkable really. Let's just select it all and then go to edit and copy. Close this down back to edit and choose paste. Okay so a bit of a problem though when I do that it's it's not quite in the right place. Well it's appeared underneath because we were working on the white layer. So here on the layers palette I'm just gonna drag it above. But yeah there's still a problem. So what we're gonna do is change the layer blending mode for all of these layers. To multiply multiply basically makes anything that's pure white. You can become completely transparent. Okay so now we have yes what looks a bit like an arm that's starting? Yeah I mean you can see that would be an are now the thing not to do the temptation is to go and get something like free transform and go and sort of stretch this out a little bit. So it now looks like an art but you're gonna run into problems because now you've got one giant glass and one really small glass. Um Just don't just don't do that, it's going to cause you problems down the line. So I'm gonna leave mine a little bit like that and now I've got two in position. I'm actually going to select them both by holding the shift key. Thinking on the lower layer. So they are both highlighted using a bit of free transform, control, T, command T. Or edit free transform and just rotate this around us. So it feels more like an R. Now you'll notice there's no stems to the glass, I'll add those in at the end. Right? Okay so that's a good start. Let's work on the E. So moving along I've chosen this one as the back of the E. So again I will choose select all edit and copy. Close this down. Edit and paste. So this is going to become the back of the E. We need to change the blending mode to multiply and then we need to pop it probably over here somewhere. I need to leave a little bit of room just for the stems of the glasses to come in. So I've got to imagine that they're there. That's about right, that looks good. Okay so happy with that and then we need some ease and sort of bits that go across. So this is my next image and I'm gonna use that as the E. Or the top part. Anyway select and all edit and copy, close it down. Edit and post. I could use the keyboard shortcuts. I will start using keyboard shortcuts in a minute because it just quicker all round then I can change the blending mode to multiply spin this around and okay, so it's gonna go in something like that. So somewhere up there probably will have a little bit of an overlap. Yeah. Okay that feels about right. And if it feels right it is right then we're gonna get another one. So we need the middle part of an eagle. I'm doing all capitals, you may have guessed and select all and copy, paste it in or using the keyboard shortcuts. Change the blending mode to multiply and then we can just spin us around with a keyboard shortcut control. T command T. And I think I have this bit of a jaunty angle cause I suppose it should come in here like that, but I mean that really is real, that really happened. It doesn't look quite right when I do that though. So I think it needs to come in at a bit of an angle, something like that and that gives me room for the stem to sort of drop down here. You have to watch this one. This one is actually on a bit of a twist as well, so when I'm choosing my stems, I'll need to choose carefully for that one. Okay, happy with that one more to go on the E. So let's bring this one in and do the same thing again, slept at all and copy and paste and change the blending mode to multiply and flip this one around. Okay someone's gonna go in down there somewhere. Yeah, something like that. Okay so that feels about, right, okay good. So we are two letters down one to go. Just the D. To go. So I need a back of A. D. Which is going to be this one so I'll slip it all and copy and then paste it in. Change the blending mode to multiply. Um This time I think what I'd like to do is just I mean I can use free transform and rotated around but I think actually what I want to do is I want to flip it so I think let's just flip it horizontally because it needs to fit in here. So we're gonna have a stem of the glass that comes back there. I've got a stem of the glass that goes down there. Yeah, I think they should just about fit something like that. Okay, let's give myself a little bit more space between the letters. Right, okay, of course all this can be moved, We can we can move into, it's not all set in stone and then the last one. Okay, so same thing again, copy it, paste it, blend mode to multiply spin this around. So yeah, Now if I put this up here, you can see the problem, if they both come from the same position, doesn't quite work. So what I'm actually gonna do is flip this vertically and then we'll see how we go from there. That looks probably a little bit better. Yeah, sometimes it's not the most curvy bit. That was the courteous one I could find. Uh we could of course moving around with liquefying things like that, but I want to try and keep it roughly. Right? So I'm looking at that now. I'm thinking, ok, what if I changed the previous one and flip it horizontally, look more like a know it looked more like a No, they won't. Yeah, I think I would have to live with it the way it is. Okay, that looks pretty good. Then we shall pop that down there and put that one in there. There we go. So we have our d more or less. Okay, let's go there. Okay, so there we go. I've now got my my letters and I can start to just reposition everything. Try and make it all look roughly right? This is gonna be the E. Yeah, that looks okay. Great. Okay, so now I can come in and crop in this image a little bit because we know roughly the size, it's going to be going to be roughly this sort of size. None of these stick up in the air too much. I need to leave some space at the bottom because we've got a couple that actually stick down so okay, and a little bit more room over to the right hand side I think just give a bit more breathing space like that and we'll just fill that in with white. Okay, good. Right, so letters are done now. We need to do the stems of the glass. So I've got a few of these to play with and this one is kind of a generic stem of the glass shot and this one I'm going to use for most of the glasses because it's about the same angle as everything else I've shot. And when you put it against a white background, it doesn't really matter which way up it is. So you'll see this will be very, very versatile. Haven't tied it up the rest of the image because of course I don't really need it. So I'm going to get the political or polygonal lasso tool. I put a feather of about 20 pixels up here just so every time I make a selection it will automatically select with a feather of to give this a nice soft blend. Of course once you've done, remember to reset that 20, otherwise it will stay there forever and you wonder what's going on. So let's make a selection. I'll go to edit and copy, go back to my main picture, choose edit and paste and that's going to paste it in now. It's going to go at the top which is getting a little bit kind of messy at the moment. Let's change the blending mode to multiply no difference to before and this one's going to go up here so let's spin this around. Actually no I'm gonna tell you what, I'm actually going down the bottom, let's do this one down the bottom and you'll find out why in a little bit I'm actually gonna pop it down here. Yeah, that's satisfying. It almost fits. That wasn't really part of the plan. I'm just gonna spin it around with a bit of free transform, expect to have to free transform every single one of these to a degree. And as always the more time you put into these, the more accurate it will be. Let's just put a pivot point in there. There we go. Something like that now. But you will find is that there may be sort of straight lines where I've sort of cut through roughly when I did my quick white out of my arm and fingers. So we need to find which one of the glasses this is. I'm going to guess it's that one. And we'll just get the eraser tool and we'll just erase that in. Just a sort of tidy that edge up slightly. Okay so that's one done and then I'm gonna get the same one again and just apply it in other places. So we'll just get the move tool. You can either duplicate this. In fact we'll do it that way. First of all just drag it down to the new layer icon to get a copy and then I can just move this around and spin this around and fit this onto here we go. Something like that looks about right again. We need to work out which of these layers that is, it must be that one. And I'll just use the razor tool and just tidy up the lower part of that image. Okay great. We might as well do one more. The other way of doing it is just hold the key. If you have the move to an active hold the key. The arrows changed to a double headed arrow. And when you click and drag you'll get a copy automatically of that layer. So that's a neat way of doing it. Just a sort of speed yourself up a little bit now this one I need to do a little bit more cleaning up. I can see I've got a little bit of my fingers still left in there so we'll do that as well. You also notice that these are pretty much the right size because I didn't do any of that free transform stuff. Nothing is going to be out of shape. Everything is well where where it should be, This one's a bit more challenge. Which one is this one then? That one? Oh yeah, that's a lucky guess. Okay, and again, we'll just use your race tour just to clean that up and blend it in. Okay, so we're starting to add some ends to these. We might as well just do one or two more. Let's just add another one up in here. Maybe uh what would happen to the top? Let's go right at the top here, so we'll add that in up there and they are going to overlap. Yeah, this was a little worried about this. I don't think it's gonna matter. It would have been nice if they didn't, but I don't think it's gonna matter hugely because it's glass through glass. That kind of makes sense. Here we go, that's gonna go into there and again we'll just rotate this around slightly. Just try and get it in roughly the right place. Okay, good. And then work out which one of these. Is that one? No, look at this, we're doing it right, good, guessing going on here and again, that blends in beautifully. Right, okay, so we've got a whole bunch of these in here now, we've got three or four where we don't have anything at the moment. So what I'll do is I'll just close that one down, we don't need that and I'll just open up another wine glass stem. Here we go, let's get the polygamy formula Sue and we'll just do the same thing. It's already feathered this one, you'll notice a little bit different. This one has some drips of water coming down. Now, I can only use this once because otherwise it will be the same drips of water every single time. So it's good to have a few of these in the bag as well just to give you the options of making this look a little bit more dynamic, like something was actually happening so well pop that in there, something like that that looks about right. And again, we'll put that up there with the other stems there in no particular order. That must be the first one. Yes, it is. Okay, so again, we'll just clean that up actually, that looks fine, so that just has a little bit more of a dynamic edge. I don't really want to do them along the bottom. Otherwise you end up with sort of drips of water down the base and it makes the bottom a little bit kind of disproportionate looks out of place. This one's a bit more challenging. So I had somewhere an image for this one. I think it's this one here. Let's have a little look. Yeah, so again, you can see where my fingers are that the room is a bit of an angle on this one too. Not the right angle, but it'll do, it'll just help just to sell the whole feeling of that a little more accurately. So that one is going to go in there again. I'll change the blending move to multiply and we didn't do in the last one, did we? Let's just make sure we do that just to keep everything consistent and there we go. Around we go. That's going to go into there somewhere. Mm hmm. Down there. Okay. And this one is a little bit harder just to fit in. It's not really the right angle, but it'll do, it'll do that, that's fine. Okay. Happy enough with that. With their like that. We'll commit to that. Then we just need to find which one of those is what I'm looking for. I'm hoping it's that one. No, this one, yes. Okay, so we're going we'll just use the eraser tools to blend that in. There we go. That looks pretty good and that's not because it's a little bit of a drip coming off that one as well. We've got a couple of others we can use. So let's go grab this one here maybe and we'll just bring this one in again. There's a nice little bit of water coming off that one. So again I can only use this once really and we'll paste that one in and I think this one again will change the blending mode before I forget to multiply and I think this one is going to go up the top here because it has some water dripping down. Again, I have to think about gravity, it has to go below the glass really? I mean it doesn't have to but it kind of needs to this one probably isn't the right one for in there because there's a little bit of a a twist on this. So I tell you what I'm gonna do, I'm gonna bring this one down to this glass, flip it horizontally and yeah, that's a better fit, that's gonna go into their and there we go, something like that. Commit to that. Find the image that goes with that one, yep, that's the one and blend that in. There we go. Yeah, that makes more sense. The water is going down like that one. Ok, we've got one final one, so let's bring this in again. There's a nice little angle on that one that should fit up the top and lots of water coming off that one. I like this one, this looks nice and then we'll just paste it in, putting up the top, change the blending mode to multiply. Bring this around. Okay, now where's the water going? Water has to come from the bottom, so we'll need to flip this vertically. There you go. That makes a bit more sense. Bring this in, pop it into place nice neatly. Use the cursor keys for fine control, but sometimes it's not always easy, especially if you don't get the rotation quite right. So we're bringing rotation up like that. There we go. That looks about right. So all I need to do is work out which one of those it is that one? Okay, once again, we'll use the eraser tool. Is the keyboard shortcut I'm using just to bring the eraser tool and there you go, wine glasses, writing water flying around and the color red and a little bit of fine tuning and tweaking. There it is. There's my final picture completed

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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