But just because I am not shooting Olympic sports, does not mean that I am not shooting and blogging. After traveling for 4 weeks straight, I thought it would be fun to shoot something at home. Many years ago, I photographed water drops, and wanted to do this again. This is proof that you do not have to travel half way around the world to take fun photos. These photos were taken on our dining room table.
Let me start out by saying that, although this may look difficult, it is not too hard. And in this blog, I will explain how you can take these photos too. I started photographing the water drops without any background. I set the camera to manual mode with a shutter speed of 1/6 sec. What??? How am I freezing a very fast water drop at 1/6 sec?
The trick is this...I was using an off-camera flash and the duration of the flash actually freezes the water drop. So...even though I had a slow shutter speed, the flash is lighting the subject so quickly that the drop is frozen in place. The color that you see in the water is a combination of the dark pan and a pink bag that was in the background.
I liked the water drop, but wanted to add more color to the water. Some people might suggest adding food coloring to the water, but as it turns out, all you have to do is change the color in the background. So, I grabbed a colorful backpack (which I brought home from Sochi) and put it behind the pan. I pointed the flash at the backpack and got a little more color in the water. But it still was not enough color for what I wanted.
Then I found a colorful towel that was hanging up in the backyard. I put it over the backpack and fired the flash at the towel, and got this. Much better!
Here is a picture of my setup. I placed a pan with water on the table, and then suspended plastic ziplock bag filled with water about 2 feet above the pan. I poked a very small hole in the bag, so that I would have a slow drip into the pan. (Note - this was the hardest part of the process, with it taking numerous attempts at getting the hole the right size, and having the right amount of water to in the bag, to create a consistent drip and not a constant flow of water.) I set my Canon 1DX camera with the Canon 100mm macro lens (although I could have easily used my Canon 5D Mark III and almost any lens that will focus within 6 inches) on my Gitzo tripod and then pointed the Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT flash towards my background. I used Canon's ST-E3-RT transmitter to fire the flash, but you can also use a flash extension cord which would work just fine and is only $30. I had a black background, but probably did not even have to have that. I used numerous colorful items as backgrounds. In this photo I have one of my wife's encaustic paintings.
As you can see, I used different props from around the house to get cool reflections back on the surface of the water. On the table, you can see my daughter's "Happy Birthday" bag, the colorful beach towel and even the seat cushion.
This photo shows the reflection off of the seat cushion. Who would have known that this simple household item could create something so awesome?!
And, it doesn't always have to be the water drop in the photo. Here is the splash caused by the incoming drop.
I really liked the reflection of the seat cushion and took many photos with this background.
This is one of my favorites from the group. Oh, at this point, you are probably wondering about my camera settings. Here is how I set the camera:
* Manual mode
* ISO 800
* Shutter speed 1/6 sec
* f/16 (to get more of the frame in focus)
* Manual focus
* Flash in TTL mode
It is very difficult to prefocus on a water drop, so I took the same pin which I used to put a hole in the plastic bag, and turned it around. The back side of the pin had this little round ball. I put the red ball right where the water drops were falling, and prefocused the camera on that spot.
This shows another photo taken with the blue and green beach towel as my background.
This pink background was using the "Birthday bag" as my background.
As my water was dripping out of the bag, I searched the house for more colorful objects. I looked in one of our closets and found some unused wrapping paper from last Christmas. I rolled that out behind the pan of water and got this shot. If you look closely at the water drop, you can see Santa Claus hiding in there.
Another splash crater within the red and green of the Christmas wrapping paper.
Since I really like the color blue, I went back to the blue and green beach towel. But, this time I added in a blue and white beanie that I purchased in Sochi.
I hope that this has inspired you to try this fun at-home photography project. Try it and amaze your friends with the details in the simple little things that most of us never see.
And...if you like this...stay tuned for the next blog when I teach you how to photograph smoke.