52Frames – 2020-16 – Fast Shutter Speed

Well, I think this one may hold the record for “number of shots taken for a single image” – I currently have more than 300 pictures on my drive for this theme (with a LOT of them actually not showing anything).

The 52Frames theme this week was Fast Shutter Speed, with an extra credit for Drip Water Photography. I kind of always wanted to experiment with drops and liquids and so on, so it was actually the right opportunity for that. I first vaguely looked on the Internet to try and get an idea of how to achieve that, enough to get me started, experiment, experiment again, experiment again, and eventually make images I liked 🙂

The very beginning of the experiments looked like this:

I hadn’t colored water yet, and I was trying to setup focus in a reasonable way, by using a small red thing (technically the plastic brush for the garlic press :P) where I would expect water to drop when I’d drop it. I had set up a couple of lights too, because for sure I needed MOAR LIGHT to be able to increase the shutter speed at a level I wanted.

The final setup ended up with the water plate set on a higher plane (actually, the yellow kitchen trolley behind me, minus the yellow cover), the same set of lamps, and a bit of ink in the water to get a more colorful shot.

What ended up working, generally speaking:

  • After a few experiments at both slower and more rapid shutter speeds, this one was taken at 1/500s – anything from 1/250 to 1/2000 seemed to work okay to get at least SOME images.
  • This means: Light. More light. Even more light. Seriously: never enough light. The reason for me to move the plate higher up was to get more of these precious photons, considering the fairly high tripods that my LED panels were mounted onto (I could have played it differently, but in the end that worked out as I wanted).
  • Pushing the aperture as much as possible DOES help making sure that more things are in focus – this one was taken at f/10 (on a 50mm with a full-frame camera). Even if that meant underexposing a fair amount, I think that eventually paid off.
  • ISO 100 was a must, because that was the only way I didn’t get a picture that was essentially noise – especially since I did tend to underexpose (mostly by lack of available light and trying to cheat on focus more than creative choice)
  • I removed the remote quite quickly because I got lazy when it came to check exactly I could get repeating shots with that thing – I ended up setting up delay + burst of 10 pictures directly on the camera, and timing the water drops in the time where the camera was bursting, and hope for the best
  • Experimenting with different ways of dropping water (from more or less high, more or less quickly) was actually pretty fun. I think this one was shot with drops coming from fairly high above, fairly quickly: the water is fairly disturbed.
  • I only played with a little plastic bottle that had a drip opening – I’d like to play with different sizes of drops, I think.
  • Better having a fairly low angle on the water surface – that might require handling the background, but the results are in my opinion just more interesting.

So, yeah, that’s how I spent most of my Easter Monday. And it was a ton of fun, and I think I’ll re-experiment with that sort of things later, because I’m very far from having any kind of mastery on the process, and it’s a nice, fairly low-tech thing to experiment with (with the exception of the lights, I’ll admit).

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