My artist friend Danny is always doodling which means he has a plethora of inks and paints in need of need using. He also has access to a studio (which we used for the laser portraits shoot). What better opportunity could there be for some messy ink water photography?
After a quick stop at an art supply store for a few missing colors and a grocery store to buy clear plastic cereal containers, we got started. We used a set of strobes to light the squirts from a variety of vantage points, a powerful flashlight to light through from behind and even a laser. First, we experimented with spraying ink in clean water using pipettes. The ink would mix quickly with the water creating a colorful mess. We could only get a couple squirts before having to dump the liquid mixture.
After experimenting with inks of different viscosities, we decided to add paint. The paint was much thicker of course and would block the light coming from the background. This created fun silhouettes and eery results.
It was a fun experimental shoot which allowed us to sharpen our skills before trying again.
Ink water photography, lessons learned:
- Use a quality water tank. The plastic cereal containers weren’t crystal clear (especially when lit from the front) and too small. The rounded corners of the containers created reflections which limited the field of view. Micro bubbles would also stick to the surface, making the shots messy and creating much more editing work.
- Clean the camera sensor. With a solid bright background, small aperture settings and close focus, every speck of dust on the sensor showed up in the shots. That’s one of the disadvantages of mirrorless cameras as the sensor is exposed every time the lens is changed.
- Set up high-speed sync flash. We had to shoot at speeds slower than 1/250th of a second because we didn’t have the right gear to sync our strobes at faster shutter speeds. 1/250th is too slow to freeze all the movements happening when droplets fall into the water. It also meant that we had to shoot at small aperture, limiting creativity. Unfortunately, I didn’t own my trusted Fujifilm X100F yet, which can sync at much higher speed without additional equipment.