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Advertising Photography Tutorial: How to Photograph Product With Water Splash

Advertising Photography Tutorial: How to Photograph Product With Water Splash

Advertising Photography Tutorial


andy mclaughlin bio picHello, my name is Andy McLaughlin and I’m a Graphic Artist, Illustrator, and Photographer. I have a small studio in the village where I live here in the UK, tcistudio.co.uk.

I graduated from Blackpool and the Fylde College in 1993 studying Technical Illustration and have worked as a freelance Illustrator and Graphic Artist since. After a short spell working as a technical illustrator, I went freelance and have produced illustration and graphic artwork for many clients across a broad range of industries but usually with a slant to the technical and data-heavy subjects like computing and popular photography. I’ve worked extensively in National Press Graphics and magazine publishing, illustrating and designing. I use Illustrator, Photoshop, Form•Z (3d), InDesign and of course, photography in my work.

I discovered Alex’s work a couple of years ago, and wow, I was amazed and hooked. The detail in the frozen splash and the creative possibilities of combining great product photography and liquid, shots like the Godiva bottle shot inspired me and opened a whole new creative world!

I work extensively with Photoshop with all of my Graphics work so the post-production is just as important to me, the more I learn in my photography the more benefit I see in the post-production, it’s a Ying and Yang thing! I also love using high-speed techniques, multiple exposures and HDR in my other photography and graphics work.

Married with a daughter I live in a small village near Saffron Walden, Essex, UK, (very close to the City of Cambridge).


How to Photograph Product With Water Splash: Creating a Dynamic Advertising Image


slpash and product liquid photography final image composite

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   In the Gearbox

• Canon 5d mkII
• Canon EF 24-70 2.8L mkII
• 4x Paul C Buff Einsteins, 2 with strip softboxes, 2 with reflectors and grids
• large home made light diffuser panels (Translum over homemade frame) 1.5m x 1m
• Threaded bar (10mm) and nuts
• Small inflatable paddling pool and large plastic sheeting
• Translum plastic
• Black and white cards/reflectors
• Various stands and supports, clamps, grips, sticky tape, bluetack…

9 responses on "Advertising Photography Tutorial: How to Photograph Product With Water Splash"

  1. Hello!
    Thank you very much for this awsome tutorial! I just have a question concerning the exposure time. What for a value did you use? The max flash synch you can get with canon is about 1/200th, so was it enough to have the water so sharp? Otherwise how did you do? Or did you use hypersync from pocketwizard? Another solution could be to have a long exposure like 1 second, being in a total darkness, but it doesn’t sound really easy to know where the water goes.

    • Hi Fabien
      Exposure for these shots is 1/200 on my Canon 5D mkII but it could be literally any setting that allows the shutter to be open when the flash fires ie. 1 second, 2 seconds does not matter if the room is dark enough not to expose the frame.
      However…to freeze water dropped or thrown needs a very fast exposure >1/5000th sec or faster (these were captured around 1/6500th sec). So it has nothing to do with the shutter and everything to do with the flash duration – Alex has loads on the site about the basics (here’s a few links to check out: http://www.photigy.com/equipment-liquid-photography/

      As you’ll see in the links, speedlights are a great piece of kit to use for this as they pulse the light extremely quickly. They get faster as the power goes down, this does however create another problem – depth of field, as your light levels go down you have to open the aperture to compensate and this starts to reduce depth of field and it can result in out of focus drops (not blurred by the motion but by the depth of field).

      Hope this helps…

  2. Hi Andy,
    I’m new to product photography and found your shot inspiring, the comprehensive breakdown of the post work really helps. Also thanks for the prompt delivery of the Translum I purchased from you, I’ve used it on a shot, it good stuff.


  3. Hello David, The strobes are Paul C Buff Einsteins and they give you a very useful flash duration reading when you set the power. They work in a similar way to Speedlights in that when the output power is reduced the flash duration decreases – very useful when working with liquid as it takes some of the guesswork out of whether the subject will be completely frozen by the flash (obviously the shorter the duration the better).

  4. Thanks, Andy, for the very helpful walk-through on this. Quite enlightening. You said “the light set initially to 1/4000 sec in action mode”. Can you share more details about this? Do you mean you can set the flash duration? What kind of light allows you to set this?


  5. Cracking shot Andy, and a great walk through. I wondered how long that nut would hold a bottle that size- as I’ve had a few disaster moments after using super glue/epoxy resin that eventually let go…. I was thinking about this issue the other day. The only solution I could think of was removing a large part of the bottle’s base – enough to get a good sized washer and nut onto a threaded bar poking through another drilled hole directly behind the label on the far side of the bottle. Still, this would limit the shot to a straight on Pov as any other angle would reveal the mount.

  6. Yes Peter I glued a nut to the bottom of the bottle using a 2 part epoxy glue. In my experience it will eventually fail (bottle is quite heavy) so to be on the safe side I put something soft under the bottle to catch it just in case!

  7. Beautyful shot, thanks for sharing!

    My question: how do you apply the bottle to the bar and nuts? With some glue or what?

  8. I refer to the ‘exposure technique’ in the Photoshop section, here is a link to a tutorial on Photigy: http://www.photigy.com/how-to-make-background-white-quick-and-easy-post-production-technique-in-photoshop/

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