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I had a few different ideas for this weeks challenge, but I ultimately decided to work with some flash as I want to become more comfortable using flash in all types of situations and this was a great way to practice putting together a multi-light shot and analyzing each lights influence as it was added.

By far one of the most impressive and accomplished “Splash” Photographers out there is Alex Koloskov (Click on his “Liquids” tab!) inspired by his images I wanted to drop something and catch the splash and since the last three weeks of entries have all been monochrome I wanted to jazz this weeks image up a little and decided red was the way to go (plus we love to eat Strawberries and this gave us an excuse to buy some) While preparing for the shoot I had at first planned on dropping the strawberry into a fish tank (which I didn’t have) so I visited a number of stores looking for a small cheap fish tank or as an alternative a deep glass bowl and I stumbled upon these awesome Martini glasses at the Dollar Store – Score!  I thought the green would contrast well with the red of the fruit and hopefully match the leafy stem (which it did perfectly) and who could resist that funky squiggle?

The shot was set up in my “studio” aka: The Kitchen, but I used a small portable vinyl table instead of our wood table to make clean up easier (I was planning on using Sprite as well as water) – more on that later.

The first consideration was what type of background did I want? Alex Koloskov uses lots of color in his backgrounds and I think that it certainly makes the image more interesting. However since this was my first try at this I wanted to keep it simple so I decided to go high key white. I set up my 5 in 1 diffuser with the white panel up against the wall behind the table, but it had too many wrinkles and I didn’t want to have to use my flash at full power to blow it out, so I taped a white posterboard over it and placed at the base my YN-560 flash at 1/4 power and zoomed to 50mm I was able to white out the background nicely.

My camera settings for this were Manual at 1/60 sec, @ f/8 and iso 200 with a  50mm f/1.8 lens this set up allowed for a white background plus a little wiggle room for experimentation.

Next  up were the flashes to freeze the splash, counter intuitively it’s not the shutter speed that freezes the strawberry and water, but rather the speed of the flash which in these small speedlights at 1/4 power is around 1/2800sec which is plenty fast enough to stop a splash then you would vary the output (or your aperture) to ensure proper exposure. I wanted to soften the light and give it some wrap around the glass so I used two softboxes one on each side just slightly closer to camera than dead center so the light would angle back towards the background and avoid any lens flare issues. It took only 4 test shots to determine that I wanted to use these flashes at 1/4 power as well.

BTS set up

Next came the drop itself, I used a wireless remote in one hand as I dropped the strawberry with the other, and this was all just trial and error, I dropped about 10 times and I would get three shots of each drop using the “Continuous High” mode, there was always some spill over , but it was much less than I had anticipated and clean up was a quick wipe of the glass, the base, and a refill if needed and then re drop.

Not every shot is a keeper, but even some of the misses were good.

Timing's everything.... and this one's a little early!

Timing’s everything…. and this one’s a little early!

For the last two drops I used Sprite in the glass instead of water to see if I could get more bubbles in the splash, I didn’t notice anything different except for the crazy amount of bubbles stuck to the strawberry afterwards, and how sticky it was to clean up.

It's the bubbly! Sprite doesn't add anything to the splash, but it sure sticks to the strawberry afterwards.

It’s the bubbly! Sprite doesn’t add anything to the splash, but it sure sticks to the strawberry afterwards.

I had such a great time making this image and then we all enjoyed a sweet treat afterwards to wrap the shoot in style.

After submitting this to the LensProToGo.com 52 week challenge Flickr group I was surprised to see it hit flickr’s “explore” the next day and eventually also the weekly theme gallery wrap up. 

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you’ll come back soon.

Happy Shooting!