Drops and Splashes

Copyright ©2017 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I didn’t have anything planned this week-end because it was raining in the morning on Saturday, and when that cleared out for a few hours break before the rain returned that evening He-Man, Diva Dog, and I went to stretch our legs in the hills. We went up down the hills walking about 3.1 miles then we were slugs the rest of the day.

Today, Sunday I wanted to photograph water drops and splashes. It’s been raining so much I guess I have drops and splashes on the brain. 🙂

After breakfast and my first cuppa tea I set up my kitchen sink with diy water drop rig.

I thought others might like to know/learn how to do it so, I have written down the gear, and steps I used to achieve the images below.

In the first image below I have my trusty Nikon Df with my Nikon SU800 wireless trigger mounted on it, and both are mounted on my travel tripod. On a light stand next to that is my Nikon SB600 speedlight. I was shooting tethered using Lightroom’s Tether Capture feature on my laptop  which is just out of frame.

I attached a doggie bag filled with clear water to the faucet with a rubber-band.  I poked a little hole in the bag to drip into a bowl filled to the brim with water.

Under that is a colorful beach towel to create nice colors in the water, and catch any splashes and or spills.  The little spoon behind the faucet I used to focus on by placing it in the bowl where the drops were falling then focused on that and switched to manual focus. The lens is a Nikkor 105mm Macro lens.

Waterdrop and Splash Set Up

iPhone 7 Plus

I took a few test shots to get shutter speed, focus, and exposure set, then started trying to time the drops to get a few nice drops and splashes. You need to shoot a lot of frames to get the timing just right.

Here are a few of my favorites:



Balancing Act

Balancing Act



Settings: I used F/16 and F/18,  1/1000s and 1/1600s, ISO 100, Manual Priority|Matrix metering| Manual Focus: I developed these 3 frames in PS CC 2017 & On 1.

I shot about 100 frames then transferred them all to a memory stick to upload to my desktop computer.  Once there I culled the images down from 100 to 33.

It has been  3 yrs since I last set up to shoot water drops and splashes (here). I forgot how challenging and fun it is trying to catch the drops and splashes at just the right time.

You don’t need a Speedlight or wireless trigger to make this type of shot. A continuous light bulb in a shop clamp light would work! You’d probably want to diffuse it with some tracing paper,  velum paper, or shear white shower curtain though.  Be aware that bulbs can get very hot so keep your diffusing material several inches away from the light!

I hope you found this interesting, and I hope you give it a go! If you do let me know how you did and please post your images. I’d love to see your results!

More to come…

” My only true love, darling. I live for furs. I worship furs! After all, is there a woman in all this wretched world who doesn’t? ” Cruella De Vil in Disney’s 101 Dalmations

Copyright © 2013 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved

live for furs. I worship furs! AI’m continuing to play with my Speedlight off camera. I have to re-learn how to set it up before I can use it if I let too much time pass between using it off camera. For this shot I used my homemade Snoot for the lighting on this.  This is my Homemade Snoot on my SB600.

DIY 7.5 in. SnootI made it with an old tea box, and Gaffer’s Tape

DIY 7.5 in. Snoot Project “How To” make my Snoot:

What I used and did
A tea box
Box cutter
Gaffers Tape
Painters Tape
SB600 w/Finished Snoot

I cut the box to fit around the Speedlight then covered both the inside and outside of the box with Gaffers tape. I couldn’t find any Velcro in the house so I used Painters tape to temporarily close the Snoot around my SB600 Speedlight. I had planned to put Velcro on the seam so I can re-use the Snoot for future projects, but I never got around to that.

I think it works pretty well. These characters I’ve had stored since the 1990’s.

“(i do not know what it is about you that closes and opens; only something in me understands the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)” ~ E.E. Cummings

While I have my stand with umbrella out I thought I’d compose a couple of still life scenes with a Valentine’s theme.

"(i do not know what it is about you that closes and opens; only

I purchased a kit of CTO gels for my Speedlight, and have been playing with those too. I hope to create something good enough to share in the future.

I bought the Rogue Universal Filter Kit.
The gels go on easily, and seem to be of good quality. This is my first gel kit, so we’ll see.
I bought my kit at a  local camera store, but Amazon has it too.

Nikon D700| Nikkor 50mm @ f/8| 1/200s| ISO 160| SB600 @ 1/4 pwr camera left| Hand-held

Woody Studies the SB600

Woody Studies the SB600, originally uploaded by dmzajac2004-.

Via Flickr:
Copyright © 2013 Deborah M Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

I’ve been using my SB600 Speedlight quite a bit the last month; on camera most the time, but did pull out my umbrella,and stand this past week-end to soften the light. It’s been so long since I last set up my Speedlight in Commander mode for off camera use that I had to get out my manual.

Inspired by two photographer friends who have been using some really cute toys as their photographic muses recently I dug out Woody to play with. The light is pretty boring in this shot I’m afraid. I wish I was as creative as Rubbah_Slippahs, and Nikki!

I want a Danbo!

D700| 24-70@62mm|f/3.2| 1/160s| ISO 640| Manual Priority| ISO 640| Eiko 4600K bulb & clamp light bounced though umbrella.

Here’s the set up shot:

Woody set up shot_4063



Testing the 24-70mm f2.8G ED AF-S Nikkor lens

Testing the 24-70mm f2.8G ED AF-S Nikkor lens

Testing the focus point, Bokeh, and filter threads with this shot. There won’t be charts and graphs in my testing. I’m just shooting still life, and portraits now. It handled the Canon 500D filter beautifully, and it went on the lens front without a problem.  The focus seems to be dead on, and I’m really liking the smooth Bokeh.

I bought this lens used. I’m getting a little braver with my used lens purchases you see, this was my first private purchase. My 2 previous used lens purchases were from a store. Although this purchase was a bit scarier I have a cushion. It was purchased from a friend of friend, and I do have a short window that the seller is allowing me test it and return it if it’s not as described.

If you’ve never purchased a used lens before you might want to start with a store like I did. When you venture into purchasing from a private seller there are some things you should ask upfront, and look for when you get the lens.

You’ll want to know the condition of the lens, why it’s being sold, has it ever been serviced, if so why? Does it come with the original caps, hood, packaging, and booklet?

Work out the price, shipping method, and terms, and find out about the return policy.

Once you get the lens look for cosmetic blemishes, look for scratches on the front and rear elements, scratches on the rear element are bad, small blemishes on the front element won’t hurt picture quality, make sure the blades don’t stick, look through the lens with a flashlight make sure there isn’t dust, and fungus,  or oil on the blades and look through both front and rear with the flashlight.

Make sure the switches work with ease,  looking at the rubber around the zoom ring, and focus ring  make sure it is secure and in good condition, and turns smoothly. Put a filter on it to make sure the threads are in good shape.  When you’re handling the lens there shouldn’t be anything rattling. The mount will most likely have some scratches or wear from mounting and removing it from a camera, but it should be solid and the pins should look clean.

When you get it on the camera make sure it doesn’t squeak, or make any unusual noises, gauge response and handling when zooming, and acquiring focus. Take both Auto-focus and Manual photos.  Take a variety of photos at all apertures, indoors and out. Then look at your photos and examine the quality of the photos.

I still need to get outdoors and shoot a landscape or two, and do some night photography to see how it handles flare, and lights to complete my tests, but so far I’m really liking what I’m seeing. It has handled everything I’ve shot very well.

Nikon D700| Nikkor 24-70 f2.8G ED AF-S Nikkor| SB600

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Copyright © 2012 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

What do you do on a rainy day and you’ve got an urge to break out the camera and shoot something? Try something new! About a month ago artist/photographer Linda Clower whose creativity, and talent I’ve long admired began experimenting with Smoke Photography. Her results are stunning, and I’ve wanted to try it myself since seeing hers.

I set my Nikon D700 mounted with a 35mm f2 lens on a tripod with the on board flash set to fire, and used a lamp on camera right. Using a couple of yards of Ultra Suede purchased for a DIY back-drop which I taped with painters tape to wall  then draped the excess over my sideboard to use as a base to set my incense dish. Setting the incense about a foot from the back of the backdrop I lit the incense, dimmed the lights and took a few shots. Below is my first attempt.

It’s rather soft. Not at all the crisp photo I had hoped to create, but I do like the surreal, and arty feel to this finished work.  However I wanted to be able to get the crisp shot I was hoping to capture.

I think the room was too bright. I decided to try it again on another day.

I woke up early motivated to try Smoke Photography again, but with changes. I decided to use my Nikon SB600 Speedlight instead of a lamp or clamp light, but I needed a Snoot to direct the light on the smoke. I’d seen DIY Snoots before and knew I had just about everything at home to make one so, I rooted around the kitchen cupboards looking for a box to make the Snoot. I found the perfect box in the refrigerator; a large rectangular tea box.  I cut it to fit around my Speedlight then covered both sides with Gaffers tape. Not having any velcro in the house to seal it closed around the Speedlight, and be able to re-use it in the future I used painters tape to close it. Soon I’ll purchase some velcro for it.

Here’s my DIY 7.5in Snoot

Now it was just a matter of waiting for evening when the light would be dimmer. The light got really dim outside due to rain clouds so I closed the blinds and set this up then started shooting before the sun came out again.I changed my set up this go round. Here’s the set up I used this afternoon D700 mounted w/35mm f2 lens, hand-held. I moved the lamp(camera right) closer, and I tried to keep the light from spilling onto the back with the shade. I wanted the light from the lamp to light up the smoke so I could focus on it and get the crisper shot. The Snoot was camera left.  My settings were: ISO 800, f11, 0.3 seconds, Manual mode, and manual focus.

I’m much happier with this result.

Nikon D700, D300s, 35mm f2, and 50mm f1.8

Here are some tutorials that  I used to  help me create this shot and  get some help with post editing.