Strawberry and Cream Splash

Photo credit: TesKing, Flickr, Creative Commons

Photo credit: TesKing, Flickr, Creative Commons

When I look at some images I imagine all the equipment the photographer had to get that shot and I would never be able to get. The truth is, you don’t need equipment to create these amazing images, all you have to have to create these shots is to use a bit of imagination and utilise your photographic knowledge.

Fruit and Cream Splash

I had really admired those images of fruit splashing into cream. I had thought I would need some expensive strobes with a complex lighting set up, a laser trigger to catch the fruit as it hits the cream and a big DSLR.

What would I need?

In taking these shots all I am doing is freezing action so you need to have a fast shutter speed. To have a fast shutter speed I will need strong lighting or a fast aperture. Having a fast aperture will affect the depth of field so this is something to consider. With a smaller aperture to keep a fast shutter speed I will need to use a higher ISO meaning more noise.
Taking this into consideration, I would need to use my DLSR, external flash, tripods, cable release and of course fruit (my fruit of choice being strawberries )and cream.

Set up

I setup my camera on tripod and got a glass casserole dish from the kitchen and filled it with 800ml of pouring cream. To the left of the dish I set up a second tripod with my external flash. I had my short zoom on my camera (18-135) and placed an egg cup in the cream and created a rough framing and prefocused on the egg cup, then flipped the lens to manual focus.
One of my concerns was Depth of field. I used my DOF calculator app to choose a good aperture and f16 was my optimal choice. I also wanted a low ISO but was constrained by shutter speed needing to be fast enough to freeze the action.
In the end my first aperture setting was f8 with a shutter speed of 1/125 with an ISO of  400.

ISO 400 87mm f/8.0 1/125 First successful splash.

ISO 400 87mm f/8.0 1/125 First successful splash.

Adjusting from success

To take the shots I used the inbuilt flash on my camera to trigger my secondary unit as well as having extra light to help freeze the action. The next problem is actually taking the photo when the fruit hits the cream. At first I created a guide out of wire but the wire was creating a shadow when a picture was taken. I started dropping my strawberries by eye and after a few attempts it became second nature. At first I also used the continuous shooting to try and capture the shot, but it was still hit and miss. After a few goess I got the shot I wanted with the strawberry hitting the cream with a splash.

ISO800 67mm f/8.0 1/125

ISO800 67mm f/8.0 1/125

Although I got the shot, what I now I wanted was a faster shutter speed. To get this I had to up the ISO and I also pulled back the focal length a little. This gave me some good shots although still wanted to have a lower ISO.  I decided to adjust the flash compensation to +3ev, giving me a stronger flash. This was a good idea except it was blowing out the cream. I got some tracing paper and placed it over the flashes to defuse the light. I now had my desired setting ISO100 f/16 1/250sec.

More Luck than Anything Else

ISO100 67mm f/16 1/250

ISO100 67mm f/16 1/250

I found that the best splashes didn’t come from the big strawberries but from the smaller ones, firstly they produced splashes that fitted in the frame and secondly would fall relatively slower than the larger strawberries.

Out of 200 shots that I took in the two hours of shooting, only 14 caught the splash and the about half of those were any good. It is luck capturing the splash even though I tried varying methods of dropping/throwing the strawberry into the cream; none of them improved the chance of getting the splash. If you try to do this be prepared for some frustration, but it pays off in the end.

The Best Shots of the Shoot

What would I do differently next time?

When do this again I would change a few things. Cream actually has a slight yellow tone and is quite thick. Next time I will use milk or experiment with a milk cream mixture. I would also like to try a few different types of fruit and see what happens. I would also use a bigger dish or tray though it needs to have tall sides as splashes make a lot of mess.

I hope this has inspired you to attempt a shot that you thought was unattainable. If it has link your images in the comment section below.

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7 thoughts on “Strawberry and Cream Splash

  1. a great lesson in patience and tenacity! I think this might just be a snow day activity! I love the strawberries and milk theme, and great information for the rest of us. thanks for sharing.

  2. Great article. I love reading through your thought process rather than a bland list of camera settings, like most other tutorials out there. I can’t wait to try something similar!

    • I think when it comes to camera tutorials you need to share thinking over settings because it is not an exact science and people will have different lighting conditions and slightly different set ups. I would give it a go the hard part is the settings but that is experiment and trial and error.

  3. awesome photos Ben…you have far more patience and determination than I do, but it is always interesting to read your processes! this was well worth the effort…

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