Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Art of Photography: Assignment 1 - Liquid/Solid

I completed my first category for the Art of Photography Assignment 1 today. For the Liquid/Solid category I had decided to photograph a flower, firstly with water hitting and bouncing off it for the Liquid image, and then in a block of ice for the Solid image.

I enjoyed creating both images, and both were a challenge and a learning experience.


For the liquid image I set up a home studio with flashguns (which I had only just purchased and never used before), a a simple black background. I placed a soft box to the left over the flower and an umbrella to the right and lower.

I used a 100mm macro lens, tripod and cable release. I pierced holes in a plastic bottle and attempted to photograph the flower whilst dripping water on it, with the intention to capture the 'splash' of the water drop.

After a little trial and error I realised I would not be able to capture the image exactly as I wanted it. To capture the water splash and freeze time would require a fast shutter speed, probally 1/500 sec or above, but as this was the first time I'd used studio lighting I had not realised I would be limited by my camera's flash sync speed. I was always used to using fast shutter speeds when outside and just assumed it would be the same.

The first images I took had shadows across the bottom of the image and I was confused! I tried changing the lighting to no effect. It took me a while to realise it was the camera shutter showing in the pictures! The flash sync speed on my camera is only 1/200 sec, and above that the shutter shows in the image! So now I realised I would be limited to 1/200 sec and not be able to capture the water drops as clearly as I wished. I have been more than happy with my Canon 450D since I purchased it and it wasn't cheap, but now I am starting to crave a more expensive camera :)

I tried getting enough light to be able to take the photograph without flash and so use faster shutter speeds but unfortunately I was unable to. I carried on anyway, taking images at 1/200 sec, and tried my best to get an image I was happy with. Consequentially the final photograph was not quite as good as I had hoped but I was still pleased.

Image taken at f/7.1, 1/200 sec, ISO-100, 100mm.


I was far happier with how the second photograph turned out. I took the same flower and submerged it in a carton of water then froze it. When it was ready I set it up in a home studio with a softbox behind the block of ice and an umbrella to the left side. This again took some trial and error but it worked well like this as the soft box would send light through the ice, and the umbrella lit the front of the ice, whilst not casting strong reflections as it was placed to the side.

Once I had found the right settings I took a number of images, all at f/11 but with different shutter speeds. I was attempting to capture as much detail in the ice as possible by underexposing the flower, and then capture detail in the flower (which overexposed the ice). When finished I combined the different exposures to create the final image.

Combined exposures ranging from 1/200 sec to 8 seconds. All taken at f/11, ISO-100, 100mm.

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