Splash Photography - Behind the Scene
Hello! My name is Leo Zank and I do product photography in Hong Kong. In this article I am giving you a brief explanation: Apple Splash Photography - Behind the Scene.
I made this shot in my home studio in Hong Kong. Despite it seems simple there is a lot of work and details that are lying behind the scene.
To produce such result you should know not only how to shoot and setup the lighting. You should also have advanced knowledge in Lightroom and Photoshop software, such as: fine tuning of your shots in Lightroom, frequency splitting techinque, layers, and masks in Photoshop. I would appreciate your questions and comments on my Facebook page or Facebook RingsFoto group, so I consider to give you the explanations of the techinques I used to create this shot.
First things come first - we need to create "lighting scheme" for splash photography.
Apple Splash Photography Lighting Scheme
As you may see I have a biggest Hong Kong appartments advantage for water splashing at home photography studio - ceramic tiles on the floor, so I used old duvet cover and a small basin to catch the water that I was spitting during photography session.
For this splash photography I hanged an apple with white thread - this is the main subject. I used big (2x1 meters) semi-transparent PVC white screen as a background. To make it green I used remote flash with green gel. I also set up the honeycomb grid on the background flash to produce round spot of the light on the PVC background.
Why I used PVC background instead of usual diffuser? Most of diffusers are made from some sort of fabric. When you are using flash behind this fabric screen, it is producing light cross, which is based on the thread network pattern. PVC screens just diffuse the light on a whole surface, depending on the initial light spot from any strobes or flashes you are using to. Usual speedlight produces some kind of rectangle spot, even if you are using flash diffuser panel. To make the spot round I used flash honeycomb grid with hole diameter 1/8".
To manage right distance from background flash to the screen and from the screen to the hanged apple, you have to make some shots. This also will help you to setup background flash in the right position to produce nice rounded spot just in the middle behind the apple.
For this photography I used "macro" lens for my mirrorless Fujifilm X-E2 - Fujinon XF60mm/F2.4, which fixed focal length is around 90mm for full frame sensors. This lens, despite its relatively slow autofocus, produces very sharp, crispy image, even at low F-numbers.
My camera settings were: ISO200 (lowest possible for Fujifilm X-series), F11, 1/160 sec. shutter speed.
This is the main trick that is lying behind the process of freezing the water! You might have an idea to shoot on a very short shutter speed like 1/4000-1/8000 of a second, but you might rarely catch the water freezed without any motion blur within the frame. Another disadvantage of using very short shutter speed is that you have to use TTL remote flashes, which can work at High Speed Synchronization with your camera (remote trigger).
Different approach to this problem is to try to shorten the flash duration instead of shutter speed. There are very limited studio stobes can produce the flash duration shorter than 1/8000 of a second. Instead of this, portable flashes on the 1/32-1/128 of their light power, can produce very short flash duration, like 1/10,000 - 1/14,000 of a second. Using portable flashes this way will help you to freeze water drops that are moving with any speed, as well as produce crystal clear, sharp image, where the water droplets are perfectly "freezed".
I used two Yongnuo YN622-IV flashes as a main light source, with 1/64 of their light power. All flashes were synchronized via Yongnuo YN622C-II tranceivers.
To prevent harsh highlights on the apple I used homemade light modifier - slim stripbox, made of black hard paper, cooking paper as a diffuser and cooking foil as a reflecting inner surface. To produce right light inside these modifiers you should use 105mm flash zoom (longest possible for YN622 flashes).
As you may see - I set up my flashes very close to the subject, due to their low light power.
Now, the process of making the shot. My wife helped me a lot. She spit the water from behind the apple, while I was shooting. That is another tricky part - how to synchronize the water and the shutter release. This is just practice plus a lot of water on the floor (another advantage in home studio - you may consider not to mop the floor before photography session, because you will do it inevitably right after the photo session).
Finally I got around hundred of the shots from which I picked up just a few in Lightroom.
Apple Splashes in Lightroom
Apple Splashes in Photoshop
I used these successful shots which Lightroom corrections were synchronized, as layers in Photoshop to add some more droplets to the final image. I removed the white thread using Healing Brush and remove some droplets and unwanted spots using Frequency Splitting technique. When I put black masks and used white soft brush to reveal desirable droplets from other shots in top layers.
I opened final composite image in Lightroom where I increased exposure, contrast, hue and saturation of the colours. Here is the final result.
Apple in the Water Crown
Again - I will appreciate your comments and questions on my Facebook page or Facebook group. If I will have enough requests to explain more details on the techniques I used, camera or flash settings, etc. - I put them in my blog.
Subscribe to my newsletters if you don't want to miss other tutorials and explanations about my photography.
Sincerely Yours, Leo Zank - Hong Kong Photographer.