Receitas – Mergulho

This post introduces a new series, bringing photographic “recipes” — step-by-step guides to the starting photographer. The objective is to introduce a bit of the practice of studio photography without so much detail or theory, but seizing the opportunities to add in hints and tricks to new possibilities in this fascinating practice.  In this post I intend to show you a very straightforward splash technique; perfect for anyone with a flash that can reach from 1/4000s on.

The set is very simple, consisting of:

  • A fish tank  (about de 15 x 15 x 7 inches) over a black table-top;
  • a black background;
  • a high speed flash in a soft box;
  • a nice selection of handpicked, beautiful sugar-apples;
  • an assistant.

1) Fill up the fish tank  with up to 2/3 very clean water.

2) Assemble your camera on a tripod.

3) Determine its height in relation to the level of the water and the horizon line of you preference.

4) Pre-focus the fruit immersed in the water at the desired depth, keeping in mind that water diffracts light, which might disrupt your focus.

5) The fish tank must stand slightly angled sideways to the camera to avoid undesired glare from its glass wall — remember that the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection.

6) The softbox can be positioned sideways or in a slightly diagonal angle downwards  in relation to the top of the fish tank, leaving of course free room so that the objects can be thown downwards.

7) A white or silver card can be placed opposite the softbox, towards the subject.

Decide with the assistant who clicks and who runs the set. Personally, I’d rather be on set, in order to understand better the behavior of the object in the water, in relation to my pitching. Timing isn’t critical since once the object hits the water it slows down, enabling a quick-fingered assistant to easily capture great moments with no sweat.

Notice that the light source, the fish tank and the card are placed so that the angle of incidence of light create an angle of reflexion that do not strike the focal plane directly.

Hopefully this straightforward technique will help the understanding that it’s more important to know how to provoke an aesthetically appealing splash than just simply shooting it. To understand this better, practice by dropping in the fish tank a round object without any texture, like a sphere, for instance. You’ll notice that it practically won’t slow down as it propels through the water, and it hardly causes any chaos. Also notice in the following examples, how the textures as well as the shape of the objects play an utmost important role for this action. Furthermore, before throwing the objects, antecipate a nice “high speed composition” of the shot by refining your pitching with more than one object. The sugar-apple splash has all these elements. Strategically, the second fruit was timed to hit the upcoming splash caused by the first one. The 3/4 view of the second fruit identifies its characteristics. Without it, the final image would not be so revealing. Capturing a unique moment, as a result of planned chaos is something irresistible and fascinating.

Finally, I’d like to quote again Galileo Galilei (1564-1642): “It was easier for me to find the laws that move celestial bodies, which are millions of kilometers far, than to define the laws that rule the movement of water that drains before my eyes.”

Have fun!

2 Responses to “Receitas – Mergulho

  1. Maria Rita disse:

    Fascinante !!!! esta é palavra certa para o seu trabalho !!!!!
    E generosidade…. por vc dividir esta “aula” !!!!
    Mais uma vez, muito obrigada !!!

  2. Lucas disse:

    Muito interessante, Tony. Vou continuar acompanhando esse blog e vou começar a comprar minhas traquitanas para experimentar. Por enquanto vou me contentar com os flashes compactos (se não me engano, a velocidade é 1/1000). Mas a ideia é sentir o feeling antes de partir para equipamentos mais específicos, certo? Além disso, meu irmão irá projetar minhas fontes de luz usando led, mas até lá… vou me virando.


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