Tuesday, September 9, 2008


The calendar says September and for most of us that means the normally sunny days of summer will soon give way to the howling winds, rain and snow of winter. So I thought, what better time to share a really fun, easy to set-up, yet quite challenging photography tip that is guaranteed to end your summer with a "splash"!

Truth be told I have never been a big fan of flash and it all goes back to my early years as a photographer. I just found the use of flash not only unflattering to my subjects but for years, I could never fully understand how flash 'worked'.

That of course had to change, and it did, since it was an absolute necessity to succeed as a commercial assignment photographer, but whenever possible, I will still always opt for AVAILABLE LIGHT! And one of my favorite set-ups finds me in the great outdoors, taking full advantage of MID-DAY light! Yes you read that right, Bryan Peterson shoots during that God awful time of day called high-noon. Yep, these words of 'wisdom' about shooting in the mid-day light is coming from a guy who is quoted as saying that "the only reason to be out and about during mid-day light is to work on your suntan" but you know what? You can actually get some really cool "studio flash-like" exposures when shooting at mid-day, and you can still work on your tan while doing so! Now that's some darn good management of time!

In the first example, you will see my set up for shooting 'food photography". Along with a simple glass vase, filled with bubbly mineral water, (which is sitting atop a small table and an open 5-in-1 reflector, silver side up), I have added a 'seamless' colored backdrop of blue, (nothing more than a large piece of colored poster size paper found at any art supply store). My camera, along with the macro lens is mounted on tripod, set to focus close on what will soon be fruits falling very fast through this water, (strawberries in this case). Set your ISO to 400, I assuming it's a sunny day, you should be able to record a correct exposure at f/8 at a 1/200 or 1/1600 second, both plenty fast enough to freeze the falling strawberries. Also, before you or your assistant start dropping the strawberries into the vase of water, manually take one of the strawberries and hold it up near the glass in the same area where you wish to photograph it as it drops through the water and now focus on that spot, making certain to leave the focus of your camera in manual focus mode.

Now that I was all ready to go, I simply asked my daughter Sophie to drop a single strawberry into the water and fire away with the camera also set to Continuous Mode, (rapid fire mode) and after shooting for just a few minutes, I would stop and take a moment to review what 'luck' I was having and sure enough, I discovered that I recorded far too many images where the strawberry was either not far enough into the composition or it had dropped to far near the bottom of the composition, BUT by golly, in and amongst all of these missed opportunities, 87 missed opportunities to be exact, I found several jewels, one of which you see here.

Why stop at one strawberry when you can try three at a time? (I love the power of THREE which is why I chose three). And after several additional attempts, an image of three falling strawberries was also recorded as they broke through the surface of the water.

Note the lighting in both of these exposures. The strawberries are lit both from the sun above as well as from underneath due to the sunlight hitting the reflector and bouncing up from below. Who says you need strobes?

Obviously too, this set-up is NOT limited to strawberries! Let your imagination run wild and soon you will be dropping most anything that will fit into your vase and IF you can find a large enough vase, try dropping a slice of watermelon! Enjoy!

Bryan F Peterson

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

great idea, u controled ur enviroment greatly & let the pic create itself, luv both pics