the moment of impact

I have been struggling to perfect water splash shots that are fun to take especially on those rainy  gray days where outside shooting is not an option.  I found three problems to solve in these impact shots:  focus, composition, and timing.  The idea is simple enough  – capture the shot just as the food item hits the water and if it works, there will be a nice splash that is frozen as the food descends into the liquid.  Timing is everything and focus is rough duty.  But, after watching a couple of YouTube videos, here is a combination of techniques that worked for me:  fill a fish tank half full of water.  Use a 70-200mm lens on a tripod and manually focus.  Place a hammer upside down in the fish tank where the fruit, etc. will impact.  Focus on the hammer handle where it meets the water line.  Scotch tape strings on the top of the fish tank to form an X and Y axis to map where the handle of the hammer exits the water (and thus the place where you have focused) and plan on dropping the food at the intersection of the X and Y axis.  For settings, I settled on the following:  ISO 250, f/13, 1/160 second.  I used four speedlights (SB900s) , all on manual power.  The speedlights were in baggies because of splashing water.   Speedlight one and two were set at 1/128 power and pointed into the tank from each end.  Speedlight three is high up on a light stand pointing down on the tank also at 1/128 power.  Speedlight four points at a background when I used either a gold or silver reflector background.  I did not use speedlight four when I used the black background.  The fourth speedlight is set at 1/64th power. The lights were triggered in the Nikon commander mode in manual to set the above settings (lights 1-3 in group A and light 4 in group B), and the shutter was triggered with a cable release.  The occasional  “stars” in the water are water drops on the inside of the tank that I did not wipe off.

Any food with some weight will do.  With that, here is a selection of the results:

I am off to eat a piece of wet fruit.  Thanks for stopping by my blog.  Mark