Splash Photography: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey

In this video I show you how to combine
both front and back lighting in splash photos. AdoramaTV presents ‘Take and Make Great Photography’ with Gavin Hoey. Hello I’m Gavin Hoey and you’re watching AdoramaTV, brought to you by Adorama, the camera store that has everything for us photographers. In this video I’m going to show you my basic back-lit splash photography technique. Now, because it’s
back-lit, if you want to see what your splashing, you’re going to need to do some front lit photography as well and I’ll show you how to balance the two with a great
little trick. OK, let’s go through my setup. As this is a splash photo I need something to splash into so I’ve got this nice round fish bowl. It’s made of perspex plastic so it’s not going to crack if I accidentally get my splash wrong. It’s sitting on a glossy
black tile so that’s great and around it is some trace to try and capture some of
the water, but perhaps the most essential thing is one of these. It’s a towel. This is
likely to get wet and messy. You need to be able to mop up any spills and having
a towel around is a really good idea, so that’s the basic setup here but I’m
going to back illuminate this, so let’s add a light in the back. So I’m going to be using flash to freeze the water and I’ve got my Adorama StreakLight 360. It’s a very powerful flash, way more power than I would normally need for this sort of
close distance but the reason I’m using a powerful flash is it means I can turn
the flash power right down low and the lower you get the flash power the
shorter the flash duration, meaning the more it will stop the water in mid-air
and that’s a really good thing. I could do this with speedlights, but rather than
working with a low ISO and a small aperture, I’d end up using a big ISO and a big wide open aperture with less depth of field. It’s all about balance. If you’ve got access to one of these, this is a great
tool for the job. I’m going to be using a paper background. This is tracing paper. It’s about a metre wide. Dressmakers use it for tracing out patterns, that kind of thing,
and it’s great because its disposable when it gets wet and it will get wet but
it’s also semi translucent and that means that I will be able to get the
light coming through and give me the back-lit illumination I’m after. I’m just using ordinary tap water for this and it’s clear as well and that is fine, we can
add some colour in post-production so let’s talk about camera settings, the
camera settings for the camera itself. Well, I’m working in manual mode because I’m using flash and I’m working at the camera’s flash sync speed or there
abouts in this case one 200th of a second for the shutter speed. The ISO, 200 ISO, but it’s the aperture the aperture really matters because that gives me a depth of
field. I need a depth of field that’s wide enough to get the whole of the fish
bowl in, plus a bit of extra room because the splashes go all directions. Now
on the Olympus I’ve got a Micro Four Thirds camera here. I get bit more depth of
field so I’m going use F/11 but if I was using a full-frame camera I’d
probably choose f/16 or even smaller to maintain a good depth of field. Right,
let’s take a picture and see how this goes for exposure. The flash is currently
set to one 32nd of its full power and that looks way too bright, so rather than
one thirty-second power, I’m going to bring this down probably two stops. That will be one 64th and right the way to the bottom, 128th That looks really good. I’ve got that lovely arc around the fishbowl, I’ve got the round fishbowl itself, and that looks
really nice with a reflection below and with the camera set, I can get on with
dropping things into the water. Now normally I would use these. These are glass fake ice cubes, and I use these often because they are translucent which means the light will pass through them and you’ll see the shape and the outline but you won’t see a
silhouette. What happens if I was to use something like this little guy? He’s not
a real fish as you can probably tell. He is made out of plastic. No animals were harmed at all during the making of this video but he represents something that
isn’t translucent. It could be fruits or anything else that you’re going to drop into water. If I had him here then you would get a silhouette so to see something that’s
not translucent you need to add a second light. We’ll come to that in a little bit. First
I’m going to get the main splash so let’s get this and get my finger on the
trigger. My little trick is to make sure that the water is all over the thing
you’re going to drop in. So as you raise it above you can see the drips dropping
straight in, and you know when you let go that means your object should hit the
water and not miss. There we go. All I need to do is press the shutter at exactly the right
time. The right time is not when these things hit the water. In fact, you need to
press the shutter momentary after they hit the water. Just so the splash can
actually get up and rise and spread out. So it’s always a little later than you think There we go. And when you get it absolutely right, you get some really great splashes. That wasn’t one of them. Let me take a few more pictures and see
if we can get a good splash. So my second light is going to come in from above and just in front of the fishbowl, but. before I actually take a picture with this flash on, let’s just get my fishy friend here, and we’ll pop him in and we’ll see how it looks without the front light. And of course he comes out as a silhouette exactly as I expected, so if I turn on the little speed light here and this is another Adorama
StreakLight. This is a little speed light version and it’s on the same radio
system as the StreakLight 360. Now it’s on 1/8th of its full power. I have no idea whether that’s right or wrong. Let’s take a picture and have a little look. OK, no that’s clearly wrong. Way too bright. What I don’t want this second light to do is to contaminate the background too much, otherwise, again, it’ll make
post-processing that much more difficult so I reckon that’s about two stops too bright. So if I go from 1/8th to 1/16th power that’s one stop and then 1/16th down to 1/32nd, that’s two stops different. Let’s take the same shot and that’s fine. That maintains the background but puts just a little bit of light onto the fish. Right, OK, so that’s my basic setup and you might be wondering, well, why didn’t I
just drop the fish in in the first place, save all that messing around with ice cubes. Well,
here’s what happens if you try and drop a fish in. You end up with a nice little
splash but also you end up with a fish that’s all out of shape and often it’ll
drag air down with it as well and it can be very distorting so you can’t really see what
object you’ve dropped in. So instead I’m going to pop the fish in and then
photograph it in situ. Now this little guy floats, so I just got to get this absolutely right. Here we go. I just drag my hand out very
quickly. There you go. I get a nice little shot with the fish pointing down as if it
just dived in. All I need to do now is to combine this shot with the splash picture
and we can do that in Photoshop right now. I really like how time spent with
the photography can save you tons of time in post-production. Now I shot everything in raw and I’ve done a bit of basic editing and tweaking to the pictures. The
interesting bit is merging the two images together. Let’s have a look. So
this is the first shot, the big splash. This is the one I’m going to use. Kind of looks quite good and I’m going to combine it with this picture of the fish that’s upside
down and of course, my hand but my hand won’t be in the final picture. So I’ve done a
little bit of work here to make the fish try and look a little bit more fish-like and less plastic. Not sure if it really makes much difference but we get the idea. Let’s just
go to Select all, edit and copy. I’ll jump back to the main image and edit and paste. Now, of course when you paste you automatically get a brand new layer. One
of the things that you may or may not have noticed is that with the second shot
of the fish, the camera position, the bowl and the zoom were identical. Nothing changed from one shot to the other. That should mean that more or less the two images are in register. Let’s see. I can check that by just getting the opacity and just lowering it down and yes, the bowl doesn’t seem to move hardly at all, at least only a tiny amount. That’s fine
so it should be a nice easy job. Going to Layer, Layer Mask, Hide All. Then if I go in a bit closer and I get a paint brush with the opposite color to my layer mask, so at the moment my layer mask is black. I get the opposite color white. I’m going to get a nice, big brush. I should be able to paint. Yeah, here we go. Bring the fish back through quite nicely like that. We’ll get rid of the ice cubes at the bottom like that, ok. Good, now of course the bottom of the fishbowl there
has no ice cubes in, that means I need to remove them from this one by again
painting in the other base image. Now, that’s great if I’ve gone a little bit over yes I have a wee bit there, I could just swap to black by pressing the X on the
keyboard and just sort of painting these areas back in just to blend everything in
together so we have a nice shot that looks pretty good. That looks great. Now
in the video right at the beginning I said about how I’m going to change the color because I’m using ordinary uncolored tap water and I want to slightly bluish
fields both the water and the background and I’m going to do that back in Photoshop so
if you’re absolutely happy and I think I am with that I can go to Layer and Flatten Image. Flatten this down, and then I can go to Filter, Camera Raw Filter and from here I can just tweak the white balance just to give it that slightly bluish feel. That looks pretty good. I can pump up the the vibrance a little bit and also add a bit of clarity and because it always helps. I do like a little bit of clarity, especially on this sort of shot and there you go. There is my final image completed. Now, if you’ve enjoyed this video and you want to see more from
myself and the other amazing presenters here on AdoramaTV, you know what you’ve got to do? You’ve got to click on the subscribe button! I’m Gavin Hoey. Thanks for watching. Do you want great looking prints at low cost? Be sure to visit our easy to use online printing service. Adorama Pix has professionals who treat your images with the utmost care that
you can count on. For a quick turnaround on photos, cards or albums, use adoramapix.com.

94 Replies to “Splash Photography: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey”

  1. I am a beginner, and I find your videos to be the best. I love your way of explaining and you give great extra tips. I have watched almost all of your videos. Its always a pleasure to watch them. Keep'em coming. Thanks for your awesome tutorials on Photography and Photoshop. P.S : It always is a surprise how you show the "Subscribe" button. 🙂

  2. Hi Gavin do you have any info on what the flash duration of the steaklights is at each power setting? I refer to the higher power ones not the speedlights

  3. Gavin is the BEST!!!!!  I own the flashpoint 360, great light, how do I get it to sync with my Nikon SB600?He said his were on the same radio frequency. How to do please!!!  Thx.I did purchase an infrared sensor, but it doesn't work all the time.

  4. Nice! Good idea using the powerful flash on low power; it negates the need for hypersync.

    P.S. One of my favorite subscribe buttons! 🙂

  5. Bookmarked, Saved, Backuped, RSSed and REMEMBERED! This video, albeit kinda silly with the subject, is still SUPER useful. Definitely coming back to this soon!

  6. Hi Gavin
    In a previous video involving water (don't remember which one) you used a black shirt to enhance the outlines of the glass and the ice. And that's I've learned.

    In this case you have a black wall. But you've also used a light blue shirt. Because of that blue reflections appear in the left side of the pictures.
    Not very apparent in the final result though…

    Was that considered or just happened?

  7. I am using CS 6 but I don't have the Camera Raw filter in Photoshop to go back to raw as you did Gavin. Is it a simple plug in? Your videos are great by the way I enjoy them very much and tell all my photography friends about you.

  8. Loved this!!  Thanks Gavin!….  This might be something to do on a rainy or when you don't want to go outside to shoot. Well done!  Are any of you out there still able to click on the Green Adorama banner when it comes up? I remember I used to be able to.. but not lately..  I like to look at the prices and specs. Thanks.

  9. hi gavin, i was wondering where i can buy a flashpoint streaklight 360 in the UK? ive tried googling but only getting US stores

  10. I have seen a couple of Vids about this technique and yours is the first one that covers all the details about light , shutter speed, iso and aperture including a good explanation , and a nice post editing in PS all under 12 minutes.
    You are the Obi-Wan 😉

  11. Gevin Hello, thank you for your video. They are very inspiring. I would like to ask what material is used on the plate under a glass sphere? Thank´s

  12. Hi Gavin,
    Based on your 'fish splash' video, I followed the link to Adorama and purchased the Flashpoint Lion speedlight. Just thought you would want to know when your marketing efforts have paid off. Thanks for the great tutorials. I enjoy yours the most of all the Adorama 'trainers'.

  13. Great splash video, I would love to do something like this myself, shame it was spoiled with faking the fish in Photoshop.

  14. I really love how you took the mystery out of what looked like on the outside that you needed years and years of Photoshop experience! What I like most about your teaching style is your unintimidating way of presenting the material and taking us from camera to the finished project.

  15. After Watching this video i click like this and freeze Water … Thanks Mr. Gavin Hoey

  16. what if i'm using a speedlite flash? what are the settings should i choose? however, I have a crop sensor camera not a full frame one. Thanks in advance mr. Hoey! you're the best.

  17. From Now On, you are My New Lover,
    The First interesting Tutorial with OMD, yayiii
    Please I'd Love to see many tutorials with OMD. please
    Hard to find that

  18. Hi!! What a fantastic video!! Thank you so much!! Can you please tell me about the table set-up? What was the black reflective piece directly under the bowl? Where can I get it? And the 2 pieces under the reflective flat piece that the water went into? If you can provide links that would be awesome. Great tutorial. I subscribed. 🙂

  19. I love your vids but man! You need to win the lottery to have all the goodies you use. Fingers crossed!

  20. Wait….he's using a powerful light on it's lowest setting? Why? What? Why not use a regular speedlite at a low setting?

  21. Hello Gavin,
    Thank you for your in-depth videos and tutorials!
    need your advice. where did you buy these glass ice cubes? Any ideas?
    Thank you.

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