Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Capturing water blobs at high speeds

One contest that I really look forward to every year is the Chicago flower and garden show in Navy Pier in Chicago. Looking forward this year as I have won the past 2 year for best in show. A win this year would be 3 in a row...that's if I'm lucky.

One category for this years contest is water and plants. I wanted to try a photo that shows movement, something that is not static and boring. So I went on to get some roses at a nearby store and decided to use them for my next shoot.

For this shot I used a plexiglass light table with a transluscent base so I can hit it with lights from a strobe. I set up the single rose standing in a base in the middle of the light table. I then put a strobe behind the light table and gelled it yellow, so the light table does not look all white. Underneath the light table I added another strobe and gelled it red, the light for the background will now be red gradiating to yellow for most of the background. I grabbed my speedlite and placed it on my left side where I was going to shoot. I pointed the speedlite directly into my subject. I attached my 100mm Canon f2.8 macro to my 5d mk2 and put it in a tripod. I then attached a wireless shutter release to my camera body as I am going to need one hand for pouring the water into the flower and the other hand ready for the shutter. I attached my speedlite to my camera using a sync cord. The sync cord allows me to shoot my speedlite with full features on. With my cheap wireless trigger, I can only trigger my flash without using the built in features that it has.

With my equipment set up, I then set my speedlite to hss (high speed sync). Most modern speedlites have this. It basically lets you shoot at faster shutter speeds using a flash. With the 5d mk2, the sync speed is 200th/sec...with the high speed sync enabled, you can shoot at faster speeds above your cameras usual sync speed...of course with the expense of a lower flash output. With water dropping on my shot, I need a fast sync speed to capture it perfectly. Did a couple of test shots and I was ready to go. I then adjusted my gelled background lights to my taste. I set up my shutter speed to the fastest I can, for this shot I used 1250th of a sec. and then adjusted my aperture at f14 to get the maximum depth of field without making my shot underexposed. I had to set my ISO to 500 to get the maximum fstop and speed that I can get. In shots like this, you need to shoot in full manual mode.

I then grabbed my water bottle filled with water. I then sprinkled water all over my flower and started shooting. I probably had around 30 shots and I just picked the best one from the batch. Processed it and it was all ready to go for the contest!

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