Using water in still life and advertisement photography: do you know how?

Started Jun 7, 2010 | Discussions thread
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Alex Koloskov Regular Member • Posts: 206
Using water in still life and advertisement photography: do you know how?

Here is the tutorial for what I call "underwater" product photography (not sure what the right name for this). We shoot several products, from fruits to a shampoo bottles, and now I am glad to show you the result.

Gold gel:

This is the most enjoyable photo-shot I had for last few month: not only the most technically challenging but the end result is the most eye-catching and outstanding.

The idea was to use a water as a ultimate background to emphasize the product: water can be transparent or 100% reflective (well, not a water itself, but the water-to air boundary), the effect called total internal reflection. Long story short: when we see the water surface at relatively sharp angle, it become almost 100% reflective, acting as a mirror.

Now, if we?ll disturb the water surface so it will form a waves, some part of the wave will be a mirror-like (due to an angle) , and some will be transparent, allowing light to be transmitted.
Lets look on this from below the surface:
Lighting setup for water splash photography:

The lighting setup, side view:

I?ve used gray backdrop behind the tank because gray can be easily darkened or highlighted. The floor under the tank is white, we need this to work as an additional reflector.

There are two lights from the top: one, more intense (1600WS full power) 10? spot to be reflected from the surface (follow the dot line), 20? spot to highlight a background visible through the tank.

Two spot lights were used to highlight the object, one from the front-top, shown on the schema drawing. the second was from the right behind. Getting lost?

To make it easier to understand, here you go, the real setup:

Lights by number:

1. 20 degrees spot with gold gel to highlight a large spot on a background, visible through the tank. It was placed to be on the front to spill some light on the object making a tiny gold accent.

2. White 10 degrees spot light, only to highlight the object. Placed high on top to let reflection form the bottom of tank highlight the object from the bottom.

3. "Hair" light. You know what it did to our bottle, right? Just look at right side (left if it was flipped upside down) of it.

4. 10 degree Spot hitting right on the behind of the tank, to be reflected from the surface at given camera angle.

Few more images using the same setup:

More detailed shoot specification is on the blog article:

Behind the scene video:

Prove it!
Alex Koloskov

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