Friday, May 8, 2009

Splashing around for Paneristi's Photo Friday

A new feature was introduced today at my favorite forum It's called "Photo Friday". Funnily lots of people that are into watches are also interested in photography. The idea of Photo Friday is that people can post up to three of their pics and they can then ask for critique and advice. The mods asked me to kick it off with a first post and so I did.

You can see the Photo Friday post on here.

I wanted to do something special for the first "Photo Friday" post and I decided to try to emulate some fantastic photos that I came across on some time ago. There's a guy who takes amazing shots of things (mostly fruit) dropped into water. I thought it would be great to try this with my PAM243...

Of course, I was a bit worried about dropping my 243 in the water. Not because of the water (it's a 1000m rated submersible) but because I didn't want the watch to hit the bottom of the water tank too hard. It may be a "tool watch" but it's not exactly cheap!
I ended up cutting a piece of Styrofoam that tightly fitted the tank. I made sure that there was some water underneath the Styrofoam, so that it would cushion the impact of the watch on the bottom of the tank. That worked quite well, because I dropped my watch about 50+ times into the water to get just a few proper shots. And it's still doing fine (although perhaps it doesn't like me so much right now).

It turned out that the actual "set up" for this type of photography is relatively simple. But timing the shot is not. I ended up with only a few usable shots, but considering that this was a first try, I'm not unhappy with those.

Settings for the shots that came out best

The shutter speed was 1/100th, and the aperture set to f16. I had one SB900 on the left of the tank and one on the right, both at half power output (there's a setup photo at the bottom of this entry). Both speedlights were wrapped in plastic bags to protect them from the water. With my 105mm lens the shooting distance was far enough to not have to worry about water hitting the camera.
It goes without saying that the camera (with my SU-800) was mounted on a tripod. I used a remote cable release - it's probably hard to this on your own without one.

I focused manually at about the center of the tank where I was about to drop the watch into the water. Because I used an aperture of f16, it didn't matter so much if I dropped the watch exactly at the right spot. There was plenty depth of field. The shutter speed doesn't have to be very fast to freeze the action, the duration of the flash bursts freezes the action instead. It turned out that 1/100th is fast enough and this exposure allows you to use a small aperture (f16).

I liked these three pics best (click the photos to view a larger version):

© 2009 M.Wilmsen

© 2009 M.Wilmsen

© 2009 M.Wilmsen

A photo of my setup

The picture below shows the setup that I used. Next time I'll be using a larger water tank. In case you're wondering, the bottom of the tank shows a battery. I dropped that into the water a few times for my test shots.

© 2009 M.Wilmsen

The ones that didn't make it...

Below are a few of the ones that just aren't good enough. It's actually nice to see them because you can get an idea of the whole process of trying to figure it out. I either didn't get the timing right, used the wrong aperture or shutter speed, had my flashes in the wrong position, hadn't yet figured out to wipe the glass after taking a picture and so on. You can click the photos for a larger version.

If you liked this entry, you may also want to have a look at freezing water droplets

Feel free to post questions and or suggestions.
All photos © 2009 M.Wilmsen