Squirt photography…

Today was definitely an interesting day and a learning experience!

Ever since Rachel Jane told me that the yellow flowers I included in my Day 1 post were used by boys to squirt water at the girls when she was younger. I wanted to see if I could capture the droplets as they exploded out of the flower bud. I’ve recently been inspired by the water droplet photography of Heinz Maier, who has done some breathtaking work. I almost feel like I wouldn’t even be able to approach what he’s been able to create, so I’ve been thinking about how I can use similar techniques to capture other types of photos.

In order to prep for my shoot, I did a quick search of the web and came across PhotosbyKev’s advice on how to take photos of water droplets. The most important piece of information I gleaned from it was that I should manually set the flash to 1/64-1/128 of full power, as any brighter setting will lengthen the time the flash bulb stays on, creating motion blur.

For this shoot I started out putting my Raynox DCR-250 Super Macro lens onto my 50mm f1.8. It’s a great, inexpensive way of turning a 50mm into a macro lens. I also used my tripod and an SB700 flash with a Lumiquest Softbox III on it.

Here’s what I would consider the best:

Water Squirt 1
1/200 sec at f8.0, ISO 200
Cropped & Edited in Lightroom

I collected almost 100 unopened buds and proceeded to experiment to get that perfect capture. Here’s what I found:

  1. Instead of the usual major confounding factor of trying to capture a droplet with a press of the shutter, I had to deal with having a number of buds that were duds, timing the shutter to the squeezing of my fingers and different buds exploding at different pressures! It made for a slightly frustrating experience at times.
  2. Trying different setups can help break the frustration. I started with a voice-activated lightstand (read: assistant) – a phrase coined on Strobist – while I played double duty of bud-squeezer and shutter-presser. With the camera on my tripod, I manually focused on a specific point and then would bring the bug into what I thought (not always correctly) was the focal plane. In this arrangement, we tried exploding the buds upwards, sideways and downwards (since I figured I could change their orientation as I saw fit in Lightroom). Having the VAL squeeze and hold the flash proved to be difficult as we had to do a countdown.
  3. To shoot without an assistant, put the light on the tripod and figure out the rest yourself!
  4. My arms are about 1 – 2 inches too short to easily shoot with the camera in one hand and a bud in the other. I was constantly straining to get the bud in focus to take the shot! Likely not a problem for most people! 😛

Here’s the rest:

So out of less than 100 shots, I was able to get 12 shots where I actually captured the squirt in a way that was interesting to me. Only 5 have the focus at a level that could make them print-worthy, but I think it might be interesting for you to see the others none-the-less. Hopefully you can tell which ones were taken with and without the macro adapter. But can you tell which were taken in which orientation?

I wasn’t able to get exactly what I was looking for, but I learned a lot and I expect to use these skills again in the future!



7 Comments on “Squirt photography…”

  1. vk says:

    Wow. From one extreme to another. Almost 100 shots vs.1 shot. It just illustrates the labour of love related to photography. I think I could tell which one is taken w the macro adapter, but I could not tell about the orientation… That is hard!

    A VAL, eh? That gave me a morning chuckle :).

  2. Rifqi says:

    Kind of interesting, like regular water drop photos in reverse.

  3. I really like this experiment! it is amazing because catching the right moment, you can freeze water, without make it ice! great! cheers

  4. miltonjohns says:

    Love these Matt. Great work. Thanks for the detailed “How to” Really useful. 🙂

  5. Matt Korinek says:

    Thanks everyone! I’m happy with the reults from the technique even though I’m not stoked about the quality of the images themselves. But like I’ve said before, the point of this experiment is to expand my creative talents, and I achieved that!

  6. Danielle says:

    These are fantastic! Love it, Love it.

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