I have been taking a look at some of my recent water droplet shots and wasn’t really satisfied by the depth of field I was getting, compared to some other shots I’ve seen on Flickr:
Most have been taken with the two flashes at very low power – 1/128. One option is to up the power – but the further this goes, the longer the duration of the flash – which is not good for capturing the fast events of water drop collisions. So, the other option – more flashes all on low power!
Today I took delivery of another three YN560’s and wireless triggers. They are very reasonably priced and I’ve been very pleased with their performance so far. I thought it best to go for more of the same type since I’m used to their operation and any delays etc will hopefully be consistent between them all.
So I began to set up another shoot with all five flashes:
The first was at the rear behind the perspex, using my DIY softbox. The “main” one was using a DIY gridded snoot, while the other 3 were using plain snoots. I had just got it all set up and was preparing to play with the fluid when I realised my valve sensor wasn’t working properly. Drat. Well, it was getting late, so I decided not to persue it for today. But I shall do more investigation and report back.
In the meantime, I’ve taken a few shots of this to see how pin sharp I can get things at f/22:
Not bad, I think! I’m looking forward to getting them pointed at some water splashes soon.
Having had my speedlights for a while now, I’ve been using the Sto-Fen diffusers on them quite a lot – it helps to soften the light for an even illumination. However, today I needed a snoot to make the beam more concentrated to eliminate excess light spill, as I wanted to photograph smoke trails from a joss stick.
I like Pringles! And the inside of the tube is slightly silvered, which helps to bounce the light around. It actually concentrates the light a little bit – hold the tube up to a window and look at the light coming out of the other end – it’s slightly brighter than just having the ambient light!
Why The Duck Tape?
The black tape gives the tube a little bit more external strength, as well as making it look a bit less Heath Robinson.
The Finished Article
The tube should fit snugly over the end of your Speedlight – it’s a tight fit on my YN560’s but this means I don’t need any other method of attachment – just squish the tube slightly to a rectangular cross-section and they happily stay put.
I made two of each type of snoot, long and short, so that both my speedlights have them if I require it. You can even keep the plastic lids for the tubes over the end, which would make attaching coloured gels quite easy if you wanted to.
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:
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:
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:
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:
Many more shots later, and I found the one I like the best:
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…
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:
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:
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.