Diving Deep Into Flash

Dual off-camera wireless setup
Dual off-camera wireless setup

I wanted to try a shot of a little Lego diver plunging into some water for my From The Toybox shot today. After my success last week with the grape, I thought I would give it another go.

Initially, I set up the scene much the same way as I had done last time [see right].

However, I chose a deeper vase as I didn’t want to get any of the water/air boundary in the image this time. After several attempts, I got a few shots which were OK, but they lacked a bit of atmosphere – I thought the plain white background made it look a bit stark, although the splashing and water movement did stand out well:

Diver Splash - Plain white background a bit boring?
Diver Splash - Plain white background a bit boring?
Strobist Flash Gels Collection - from flashgels.co.uk
Strobist Flash Gels Collection - from flashgels.co.uk

Thankfully, while I was taking these first few shots, the postman arrived with a package containing the Rosco Strobist Gel Filter collection [see right]. I was pretty impressed as I’d only ordered them from FlashGels.co.uk website at lunchtime yesterday!

They also came with the Gel Clip for attaching them to your flash head. I know I could have saved some dosh and stuck them on with masking tape, but it’s a bit of a clunky solution (and I suspect ultimately it will damage the gels after repeated use). So I removed the diffuser from the flash lighting the background and replaced it with the Gel Clip holding a piece of #3302 Blue:

Back Flip Dive - more interesting with the blue background
Back Flip Dive - more interesting with the blue background

I had realised by now that keeping your water scrupulously clean was also a good idea – the diver had been a bit dusty when first immersed, and after repeated dunkings, he had shed most of the dust into the liquid, so I had to clone out all sorts of little bits and bobs to get a clean image! It was better, but still not quite what I was after.

Next, I dug around in my props box and found a sheet of transparent blue acrylic with a wave pattern on it which I thought might make for a better background. Also, I wanted to try out the old manual ringflash I had lurking in the cupboard to see if that would work with the wireless triggers:

Head First - wavy backround lit rather too well with an old ringflash
Head First - wavy backround lit rather too well with an old ringflash
Final setup for the shot
Final setup for the shot

I decided to ditch the ring flash as it did not have adjustable power and it was rather too much for this particular job. It will make a great “flood” for pure white backgrounds in future, so I’m glad it does work with the wireless triggers (might have to buy an extra RF-602RX to fire it with though).

Eventually, I settled on the setup shown on the right – the camera was mounted on the tripod with remote release and RF-602TX wireless transmitter on the hot shoe. Background was lit by one of the YN560’s, bouncing off the white background and back through the transparent blue acrylic. The main subject was then lit via the other YN560 with the GelClip and #3302 blue filter. So, I’m happy with the setup… now I take lots of shots:

Diagonal Plunge
Diagonal Plunge
Scuba - carrying a little bubble!
Scuba - carrying a little bubble!

Many more shots later, and I found the one I like the best:

Deep Dive - Best of the day
Deep Dive - Best of the day

I’ve done a little bit of post production on this one, using the Soft Light blending mode at 50% opacity on a duplicate layer to enhance the colour saturation. I’ve cloned out a few stray bits in the water (nowhere near as many as earlier since I changed it for fresh!).

Mission accomplished. Oh, and of course I also had a little help

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