Thursday, March 15, 2012

Why does photographer need aquarium?

I bet all of you guys have seen pictures of fruits, cans etc falling into water. After short preparations I decided to try my skills and take same kind of picture. To be honest I expected the whole process to be short, fun and EASY. Well, I was wrong. It is one thing when you read article about some technique and it is completely different story when you practice it on your own. 
Since I am a lucky owner of 50 l aquarium I had no chance of not trying to take a picture of falling lemon slice. :)
So, shortly about equipment:
1. 50 l aquarium
2. Canon 60 D
3. Canon EFS 17-85 mm f 4.0-5.6
4. Canon Speedlite 430 EX II
5. Falcon Eyes SSK-2200F
6. Youngnuo flash trigger
7. Velbon DF60 tripod
8. Lemon

For those who did not figure out how all this system worked: flash trigger was mounted on camera's hot shoe, receiver--on a Canon flash light. Falcon flash has light sensor so it was triggered by Canon, which was triggered by wireless Youngnuo trigger. I put lights on the sides of aquarium in order to darken the background and light a lemon slice.
Before starting the actual photoshoot I prepared myself with reading articles related to the subject. 
So, I started. You cannot imagine my frustration when I saw first few pictures. I was expecting to see frozen action but instead I got quite blurry picture. 
At some point I tried to take picture in complete darkness with 4 sec exposure. Idea was to fire flashes at the same moment when the lemon falls into water, to freeze falling. It did not work out. Still pictures were blurry. This was when I learned about impulse length. My flash has 1/800 sec. Author of the article I was reading had flash with 1/10000 sec impulse. 
I changed my tactics: instead of boosting flash output I increased ISO to 400 and set shutter speed to 1/250. To get the shortest possible impulse I set flash light to minimal output. Result surprised me. Fall was actually frozen! I realized that I was going into right direction. I played with positioning of lights when illumintaion was too intense.
As a result I got pictures with very dark background and sharp image of falling object.
If you ask me: yes, I will definately do it again! It is unbelievably interesting gentre of photography: every picture is unique and pattern of bubbles cannot be copied :)
Few more tips to save your time:
  • the higher you drop your object--more interesting bubbles look.
  •  there will be lot of water on the floor, on the table, so make sure all equipment is safe and dry.
  • do not try to lift full aquarium. it is heavy:) and 50 l of water on the floor is a lot. Trust me :) 
If you have any comments or questions--you are welcome to leave your feedback.


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