This weeks (although it’s a week late) Thought Behind the Shot was chosen by my amazing Facebook fans. I had a feeling this would be the photo you guys would pick
The thought behind the shot was a droplet of water that’s extremely sharp, crisp and timed just right. To be quite honest, I went into this shot without any thinking at all. I just went for it. Sometimes just going for it can be a good thing; and in my case it was this time around. I had just gotten my Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro lens for my Nikon D7000 so I wanted to test how well it could focus up close on a somewhat moving subject.
So really, I guess “the thought” was to use my brand-new macro lens!
Equipment Used to Make the Shot
There’s nothing better than using one of Nikon’s best DSLR’s for shooting up-close action with a macro lens. The nikon D7000 is an easy choice for the water drop shots. Plus it was my only camera so I have no other choice
Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro Lens
This lens is awesome. Check out my full review of the Tamron 90mm macro lens . You’ll find more sample photos. Which are pretty awesome I must say.
Vivitar 285HV Flash
I wanted to use a powerful, easy-to-use flash for my setup so I grabbed the The Vivitar 285HV out of my camera bag. The 285HV is awesome for a main light because it’s powerful enough in most close-quarter lighting situations.
Setting up the Shot
Setting up this shot couldn’t have been any easier. It was simple and painless. Here’s a photo of the setup:
As you see, I (cautiously) placed the Vivitar 285HV and CyberSync flash trigger to the right of the faucet, aimed slightly down and away from the back. I set it to 1/16th power. This gave me the ability to “freeze” the action of the water drop by allowing me to use a fast shutter speed. No tripod was used due to the tight working space.
Then I tested how easy it was to focus. At about 15 inches from the faucet, let’s just say focusing was a pain-in-the-behind because it was constantly dripping. I was using autofocus with the Tamron 90mm macro lens. Autofocus is not a strong point for the Tamron 90mm. Nevertheless, I managed. I did, however make sure to turn the water down to a trickle, so I could anticipate and time the shot perfectly. Well, as perfectly as I could.
Once I was happy with the setup, I adjusted my camera to the following settings:
- Shuuter speed: 1/320th sec
- Aperture: f/14
- ISO 100
These settings gave me the perfect exposure I was looking for while getting as much of the drop in focus as possible. Had I used a larger aperture, the water droplet wouldn’t have been sharp from front to back.
After setup was all said and done, I snapped a few pics. The first few went straight to the trash, then I took the one I’m writing about. Here’s the result straight from my D7000:
As you can see, it’s nothing like the final image. So it’s time to move onto the next step.
Post Processing and the Final Touch
Cutting right to the chase, I imported the image into Lightroom 3. Once inside, here’s a quick and easy to follow breakdown of the process and adjustments made to complete and finalize the image:
1) Crop the image
I selected the crop seen to the right mainly using the rule-of-thirds. In my opinion it gives the shot a better feel. I played around with different crops but found this one pleasing. What do you think? I’d like to hear your thoughts. Speak ‘em in the comments below.
2) Convert to Black & White
To rid the photo of any odd hues and colors, I decided to convert the photo to black and white in Lightroom 3. I simply switched from color to black & white using Lightroom’s “treatment” setting, found on the very top of the “basic” panel.
3) Final Lightroom Tweaks
Using Lightroom’s “split toning” panel, I adjusted the shadows slider to a hue of 208 with a saturation of 19. This made the photo “cooler” in color. Then to add “pop” I adjusted the darks and shadows slider down to -32 and -29, and increased the lights to +22. After that, I made the following adjustments:
- Clarity: +56
- Recovery: 52
- Exposure: +1.25
- Fill light: 9
- Blacks: 10
- Post-crop vignetting -
- Style: paint overlay
- Amount: -32
- Roundness: 7
- Feather: 100
4) Photoshop Background Blur
Yes, I’m cheating. I’m blurring the background in Photoshop. But so what, it works great for me and gives me the silky-smooth backgrounds I love.
First I duplicated the layer, then used Photoshop’s “Quick Selection Tool” and selected the water drop and faucet in the foreground, as seen in the photo to the left.
I used a brush size of 30. Oh, and a quick tip: on a Mac, holding down the “Option” key allows you to subtract from the selection. It’s very handy and allows you manually refine the selection quickly.
5) Gaussian Blur it!
I blurred the crap out of it! Here I used Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and set the radius to the MAX of 250 pixels. Completely annihilating any thing that was left in the background.
6) Final step: Mask it out!
I selected the duplicate layer that I blurred in Photoshop and added a layer mask to it. Why? Well, my plan is hide some blur I just added by revealing the original, non-blurred photo behind it. I want to bring out a certain highlight in the background.
I used a large, low opacity black brush (black = hide current layer and white = reveal current layer) and painted where I wanted to reveal the highlight. The areas I hid can be seen in the photo to the left, indicated by the red.
Conclusion and a Sink Full of Water
So there we have it. The final photo of a water drop coming from a faucet. Simple, yet cool. From start to finish this photo took me about an hour and a half. Most of my time was spent fiddling around in Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5 figuring out the best way to get the result I had imagined.
Hopefully this is a good example of what can be done with a simple light and macro lens. I encourage you to try it out yourself. Just remember to turn the faucet off when you’re done
This free website’s biggest source of support is when you buy stuff through my links, especially this link directly to B&H Photo when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep writing these tips and reviewing camera gear when you get yours through these links, thanks! Tim.