For my latest image, I got to try out some of my new Christmas presents. The first being, the Camera Axe System, an interesting product that allows photographers to devices cameras such as hot shoe flashes, studio flashes, etc based on a wide variety of inputs from sensors (Microphone sensors, light sensors, photogate sensors, valve sensors). The software on the Camera Axe is open source as well, which means if you have the mind of an engineer or computer programmer, you can even modify the code to suit your needs.
If you don’t have a degree in computer sciences, than the base software is more than enough. It allows you to set thresholds for the various sensors (meaning for instance, you can specify the value that triggers your device to go off) as well as setting delays (the difference in time from when the sensor is alerted to when the device is actually triggered.)
This criteria is very useful when doing high-speed photography, where a few milliseconds can greatly change the result of the photo. You can see here from one of my early test shoots, how just a few milliseconds changes the entire effect of a popping balloon.
The other Xmas presents I utilized in this shoot were Paul C. Buff’s new Einsteins. Einsteins have a distinct advantage over any other Alienbee AB light because of its faster flash duration. It is absolutely impossible using the AB800′s that I have to capture water that is frozen. Although it seems like a brief instant, the duration of the flash (even at its lowest setting) it too long to freeze the motion of fast falling water. Having both of these tools at my disposal now, i wanted to create an image that would put them to the test.
I began by going out and buying the coolest looking bottle of clear liquor I could find, which just happened to be a Limited Edition of Absolut Vodka. The bottle’s silhouette was very similar to the iconic Absolut Vodka shape, but the texture was completely unique due to diamond-shaped bevels all over the bottle. I knew with so many facets that it was going to make it extremely difficult to shoot. When I first got it into my studio, I set up my lights and saw that my suspicions were correct. The facets of the diamonds refracted the light in strange ways making it difficult to actually see the texture.
I was unsure, however, if the matte spray would have any effect on something so crazy looking. To my surprise, it surpassed all my expectations. If you are a product photographer, and don’t have any of this stuff, go and get it.
From there on, it was just experimenting with the lighting setup to make the bottle look the best it possibly could. After I was confident the bottle looked good, it was time to utilize my new toys. I tried to keep the lighting setup very similar, but I reduced the power on all my flashes to shorten the flash duration. With the room blacked out and the lights turned off, I triggered my camera with a Infrared remote. The shutter speed was several seconds, which allowed me to navigate through the darkness, scoop water out of a bucket, and then throw the water onto the product. The sound of the water hitting the table triggered a microphone sensor that I had below the product, which in turn fired off my flashes. Because the room was completely black, the only thing exposing the picture was my flashes meaning that I would have no motion blur. You can see a photo of the setup which I took during daylight of how everything was positioned.
Image Build Up
I experimented all weekend with the best ways to light and throw the water, taking several hundred photos. There wasn’t one that really screamed to me, which is partially my mistake for not concepting what I wanted the photo to look like before hand, and so I decided I was going to have to composite several together. You can see my entire editing process below in the animated .GIF.
I’m pretty excited about how these new tools will elevate my photography game and am excited to see where this high-speed stuff goes. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out and contact me. I’d be happy to help. Big shout out to those at Camera Axe and Paul C. Buff for making sweet products.