Posts by tag: strobist

Diving Deep Into Flash

Posted by Caz on Saturday, 11th June 2011
Dual off-camera wireless setup

Dual off-camera wireless setup

I wanted to try a shot of a little Lego diver plunging into some water for my From The Toybox shot today. After my success last week with the grape, I thought I would give it another go.

Initially, I set up the scene much the same way as I had done last time [see right].

However, I chose a deeper vase as I didn’t want to get any of the water/air boundary in the image this time. After several attempts, I got a few shots which were OK, but they lacked a bit of atmosphere – I thought the plain white background made it look a bit stark, although the splashing and water movement did stand out well:

Diver Splash - Plain white background a bit boring?

Diver Splash - Plain white background a bit boring?

Strobist Flash Gels Collection - from flashgels.co.uk

Strobist Flash Gels Collection - from flashgels.co.uk

Thankfully, while I was taking these first few shots, the postman arrived with a package containing the Rosco Strobist Gel Filter collection [see right]. I was pretty impressed as I’d only ordered them from FlashGels.co.uk website at lunchtime yesterday!

They also came with the Gel Clip for attaching them to your flash head. I know I could have saved some dosh and stuck them on with masking tape, but it’s a bit of a clunky solution (and I suspect ultimately it will damage the gels after repeated use). So I removed the diffuser from the flash lighting the background and replaced it with the Gel Clip holding a piece of #3302 Blue:

Back Flip Dive - more interesting with the blue background

Back Flip Dive - more interesting with the blue background

I had realised by now that keeping your water scrupulously clean was also a good idea – the diver had been a bit dusty when first immersed, and after repeated dunkings, he had shed most of the dust into the liquid, so I had to clone out all sorts of little bits and bobs to get a clean image! It was better, but still not quite what I was after.

Next, I dug around in my props box and found a sheet of transparent blue acrylic with a wave pattern on it which I thought might make for a better background. Also, I wanted to try out the old manual ringflash I had lurking in the cupboard to see if that would work with the wireless triggers:

Head First - wavy backround lit rather too well with an old ringflash

Head First - wavy backround lit rather too well with an old ringflash

Final setup for the shot

Final setup for the shot

I decided to ditch the ring flash as it did not have adjustable power and it was rather too much for this particular job. It will make a great “flood” for pure white backgrounds in future, so I’m glad it does work with the wireless triggers (might have to buy an extra RF-602RX to fire it with though).

Eventually, I settled on the setup shown on the right – the camera was mounted on the tripod with remote release and RF-602TX wireless transmitter on the hot shoe. Background was lit by one of the YN560’s, bouncing off the white background and back through the transparent blue acrylic. The main subject was then lit via the other YN560 with the GelClip and #3302 blue filter. So, I’m happy with the setup… now I take lots of shots:

Diagonal Plunge

Diagonal Plunge

Scuba - carrying a little bubble!

Scuba - carrying a little bubble!

Many more shots later, and I found the one I like the best:

Deep Dive - Best of the day

Deep Dive - Best of the day

I’ve done a little bit of post production on this one, using the Soft Light blending mode at 50% opacity on a duplicate layer to enhance the colour saturation. I’ve cloned out a few stray bits in the water (nowhere near as many as earlier since I changed it for fresh!).

Mission accomplished. Oh, and of course I also had a little help

High Speed Flash

Posted by Caz on Monday, 6th June 2011

I’ve been having some fun with my new Yongnuo flash equipment over the past few weeks. Most of it has been for static set up shots, but recently I’ve been dipping my toe (pardon the pun) into the world of High Speed Flash photography.

In order to freeze movement in water splashes for instance, most cameras have a shutter lag which is too long to capture anything useful – by the time you’ve hit the button, the moment has gone. With High Speed flash, the idea is to use your electronic flashes at very low power (for the shortest possible flash duration of the order of 1/20000s, I used the 1/128 power setting). You then set the camera shutter speed to be 1″ or so, in darkened conditions, so that using ambient light (no flash), you get a black frame. That way, when the flashes do fire, you’re freezing the action at the flash duration speed, not the camera flash sync speed (which at best would be around 1/250s if you’re lucky).

Yesterday, I set up my studio as follows:

Dual off-camera wireless setup

Dual off-camera wireless setup

  • 2 x Yongnuo 560‘s – one bouncing off white background on camera left, one on main subject camera right, both at 1/32 power with stofen diffusers
  • Canon EOS 7D with Canon 60mm EF-S f/2.8 USM macro lens, mounted on a tripod
  • Yongnuo RF-602TX wireless transmitter on the camera hot shoe and remote release cord attached to camera
  • Two Yongnuo RF-602RX wireless  receivers, one under each flash head

I set the camera up at ISO 200 with a shutter speed of 1/200 and aperture at f/18. Without flash, the image was very very dark (just what you want), so the flash is what would be freezing the action.

The grape was dropped into the small vase of water and the  camera was manually triggered via the remote control cable. This in turn sent out the flash on signal via the camera hot shoe/RF transmitter, and that is what triggered the flash heads.

There was a LOT of trial and error involved – basically, I  had to anticipate when the grape would land in the water and be in a suitable part of the frame. Several hundred shots later, I had the following, which I am quite pleased with:

Bobbing Around

Bobbing Around

Diving

Diving

Sploosh!

Sploosh!

Rock Bottom

Rock Bottom

So my first attempt at high speed water splashes was quite pleasing. I chose the best of the lot for Day #1252 – Splashdown.

I realise that manually firing the flashes is going to be quite limiting as to what I can achieve, so I’m going to be investigating the options for doing this automatically for even more accurate results in the future.

Watch this space!