In the previous week with my class of about 100 first year computing students we looked at the process of panoramic photography and light-painting, hence were making use of long shutter durations. This week I thought it would be interesting to go in the opposite direction and capture moments in time of just hundreds or even thousands of a second. I had seen quite a few videos in the past, about capturing such imagery, using both flash and continuous based lighting, hence I gathered together a number of these videos and made a recent blog post about them.
This first image seen above is a composite of images taken from two of the three setups that were used. Firstly the stage was set for the capturing of soap bubbles gently floating down to earth. Next the students had a chance to drop some fruit and vegetables into an Aquarium. The final option was to pour some water into a wine glass and capture the some of the detail and beauty of flowing water that we overlook on a daily basis.
The day prior to class I set out to purchase some essentials, I began by getting some PVC tape, jugs, straws and glass scraper to clear the water from the aquarium after the splashes. Having being unsuccessful in finding soap bubbles, I ventured to another shop and was delighted to see they had a good variety, hence I purchased one of each set they had, this amounted to perhaps close to two liters of soap bubbles, so I was quite sure we would have enough for the photo-shoot. The final really large and important task was to find an Aquarium, so I headed in the direction of the beach to seek one out. I looked through quite a few different aquariums, and finally settled on a glass one of dimensions 24″ x 15″ x 12″ capable of holding about 65 liters of water. So with that I carted all this stuff back to the office.
Later that night I paid a visit to yet another shop to pick up some fruit and vegetables that should make a good splash in the aquarium. Also picked up some food colouring both yellow and blue for use with the water pouring into the wine glass setup. To capture any spillage from the glass I also picked up a paint tray! So that was more or less everything.
Given the class size was about 100 a video feed was setup between the green screen room in which the photography was taking place and the computer lab where all the students were working on some Photoshop and Illustrator tasks. That way they could see what was going on as the video feed was displayed on three projectors within the lab, hence they could move between one and the other depending on how busy the photographic session was. I have used this technique in the past on a few occasions and have found it to be very useful. All in all it took about an hour to set everything up for the shoot with the help of three students and the support team for the video feed.
The following photographs should give a sense of what was taking place in the green screen room with all three stages running concurrently. As you will see bubbles were being blown, peppers, strawberries and the like were being dropped into the aquarium & water was being poured into the wine glass. Five lights were used, two for both the aquarium and the bubbles, leaving just one for the wine glass. In total this amounted to the equivalent of 5320 watts of lighting keyed at a temperature of 5200 degrees kelvin.
The following set of images give a sense of what the room was like after a bit of tidying up was done and some things moved around a bit.
The next set of images just give a sense of the materials that were used for the photo-shoot taken around two hours prior to setting up the scenes. The large Nemo sitting happily on the aquarium will probably find a new home back on my desk but inside the aquarium, in which he fits nice and snugly. This of course has the added advantage of keeping him dust free once I find a suitable cover.
The final set of images include some of the water being poured into the wine glass along with the individual shots that were combined together in the first image of the post.
All in all I would guess that a few thousand photographs were taken in the course of a couple of hours. Its probably also safe to say that the students really seemed to enjoy the photo-shoot, especially given the room was such a hive of activity. Having a number of distinct but related tasks seemed to work well, one thing we didn’t do was to capture water drops falling and splashing into a pool of water, so that is perhaps something for next time, as one can use a few techniques for this alone. If you wish to see some of these images if greater detail, then you can take a look at the corresponding Album.