Dropping Fruit into Water - Michael McDaniel - MichaelsImages Photography

Dropping Fruit into Water

Lemon Drop

Water & Fruit

It wasn't easy getting this shot when I wasn't sure what I was doing. Sure, I had a good idea on how to take this type of picture, but I wasn't sure how to make a sharp image. Through a little trial and error I manages to get very sharp photos.  This is how I achieved those.

I experimented with three different lighting setups to get this result.

-1st using one Elechrom flash unit with softbox.

-2nd using constant LED video lights.

-3rd using two flash units (nikon sb600)

I used a Nikon D7100 with the Joopic Cambuddy to remotely trigger and to enable the viewing of the pics immediately. I tried the laser trigger and manual trigger options of the Cambuddy. With the first setup I could never get a sharp image. The light was directly overhead, there was white paper underneath the tank to provide some bounce lighting. The fastest shutter speed I could use was 1/250th with the Elinchrom light. Even at the lowest power it would not freeze the motion to give a sharp image.

Softbox Setup - Complex

First Try with Studio Light and Softbox

I had better luck with the LED video lights. One light on each side of the tank. I had to make sure I lit both above and below the water level. This was a better setup since I was able to push the shutter speed high enough to freeze the motion. (F2.2 ISO 200 1000sec 50mm). The image was acceptable, especially if viewed on a cell phone, but I had seen sharper images and was not happy with my results.

Second Setup with Video Lights

Second Setup with Vidwo Lights

So I tried speed lights. Immediately the results were much better than the first two attempts. My setup was one directly on the left side of the tank and one on the right that was slightly forward. Both were triggered using remote triggers manually powered at 1/64. The flashes were less then 2 feet away from the tank. With this setup I was able to achieve that sharp focus stop motion image.

Speed Light Setup

Speed Light Setup

The different lighting setups also played a large role with flash spillage on the background. With the Elinchrim I used a 24x24 softbox. I had black paper and black foil everywhere trying to control the lighting, that whole setup was a pain in the butt. With the constant light source I had similar problems but since each light was only 5x6 it didn't present as big of a problem and was easier to control. With the speed lights I only needed a simple black background.

Water drops on the fish tank was another issue I had to deal with. The only squeegee I could find was at a Dollar General, but the rubber was to hard and left a lot of water streaks. I needed a soft rubber like an old windshield wiper but that would be hard to hold and I didn't have one. I ended up using good old paper towels. They were a good brand so one wipe and it soaked up all the water drops.

Triggering the camera was first performed with the Cambuddy laser trigger. So when the fruit dropped and broke the laser beam with a set delay it triggered the camera. This worked great when I was taking pictures at night. I could easily increase the delay to capture the fruit deeper in the water. However the laser sensor was too close to my softbox so it didn't work until I did some shielding. With a skylight in the room, during the day the laser trigger received too much interference from the window light. I found it easiest to to trigger the camera manually with the Cambuddy and preview the image on an iPad.

I also experimented with different kinds of fruit. Green, yellow peppers, red and green apples, cherries, lemon and a lime. The cherries I had bought were not that bright so I don't like those results as much. My favorite is the lemon and apples. After 3+ days of shooting it was time to give the dining room back to my wife... Oh and by the way, I protected the table with a plastic mattress cover from the dollar store, and thank goodness it actually worked!

If you like this article or found it to be of use please provide a thumbs up or leave a comment. If you have any experiences please share in the comments.


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