Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Creating a splash with images

Creating an image like the one above is relatively easy to do and is a great exercise to learn more about shooting in manual mode.
 
You will need a:
  • digital camera (with manual mode)
  • flash (ideally an external one)
  • bowl of water
  • drinking straw
  • tripod.
 

Setting up your camera equipment

 
1. Fill the bowl with water as much as possible. The bowl will need to be in the place where you are going to photograph it, before you fill it up. I took my photograph in my kitchen because it is a nice bright room and any spills were easy to clean up.
 
2. Mount your camera onto a tripod. This is important because we want the image to be as sharp as possible. Using a tripod helps to eliminate camera shake.
 
3. Switch your camera to manual mode (M) and move it as close to the bowl of water as possible (about half a meter away).
 
4. Now we need to select a shutter speed. As a general rule, your shutter speed should be equal to, or less than, your focal length. So, if your focal length is 60mm, your shutter speed needs to be 1/60 or less. However, we want to freeze the action of a water droplet, so we need a really fast shutter speed - this is why we are using a flash. Set the shutter speed to around 1/200 or 1/250.
 
5. Next, select a narrow aperture (I used an aperture of 8). This will help to make the water droplet nice and sharp.
 
6. Finally, change your ISO to between 100-400. The lower the better. I used 100.
 
Now we have set the three components of exposure - shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Take a test shot, remembering to use your flash, to see if you are happy with the result (don't worry about the focus for now - this will probably be blurry). Play around with the camera settings until you are happy but remember, keep as high a shutter speed as possible. If the image is too dark, try increasing your ISO. If your image is too light, try decreasing your ISO. Failing that, select a wider aperture (try 5.6).
 

Getting the perfect shot

 
7. Hold your drinking straw in roughly the place that you think the water 'splash' will be (you may need somebody to help you). Now, with your camera in manual focus, make the drinking straw as sharp as possible through the view finder.
 
8. Use the straw to drop water into the bowl (I suggest using an assistant for this). At exactly the same time as you drop the water, press your shutter and take the photo.
 
9. You will probably need to adjust your ISO or aperture until you are happy with the exposure.

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