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Hi all… I’m Dave…

I won’t bore you all with my history (actually I will but that will come later) so I’m just gonna get right into it…

 From the time I started shooting, about 10 years ago, all I’ve ever heard is that you need studio lights to make great pics happen. Until about 8 months ago I never owned one. I shot with all sortsa lights… household lights, flashlights, matches, quarts garage lights. You name it, I shot with it. 8 months ago I bought a bunch of Einsteins (Paul C. Buff stuff) and they’re an amazing product and offer so much bang for the buck.
When you consider that a good hotshoe flash costs about the same as one of these things it’s amazing. But after shooting them for a while I’ve come to realize something. You don’t need them to create great stuff. Yeah, it might make it a little bit easier but it’s not necessary. The important thing is desire, want and need.

 So let’s look at this pic I shot tonight…

Liquid photography by Dave Nitsche

Yeah, sorta cool but nothing really special, but I wasn’t trying to create a masterpiece. I wanted to create something that proves a point.

So the liquid is corn syrup and food coloring. Corn syrup is the coolest stuff in the world! Incredibly thick and works so well with light. It moves so slow you can actually see the flow when the lights trigger. So much fun!!!

Let’s talk about this one a bit and look at the set up

Lighting setup Lighting setup for liquid photoshot

So you see 3 Einsteins, a bunch of foam core (black and white), and the prop. Really simple setup when you get down to it. There is another light you don’t see in this shot on the floor pointing  up at the white center piece of foam core. 

Lighting setup for a liquid shot, alternative view

So this is how it works. The floor light bangs off the white foam core and gives the backlighting needed to show thru the liquid. The two lights at 3 and 9 oclock bouncing off the black are adding background detail and dark highlights in the liquid. The front light is giving some detail to the spoon and adding highlights to the liquid to give it a realistic 3d kinda feel.

 This is the second pic I took. There is almost no PS involved in it. I cleaned some spots off the frame ( I hate cleaning my sensor), sharpened and really that’s about it. There are some really fundamental principles being applied to this shot and if you can get it you will be a stop motion master…

  First… Flash duration! In shots like this, or other splash stuff, the shutter is NOT stopping the motion! This image was shot at a 250th at f18. Not nearly quick enough to stop anything. The flashes are stopping the motion. When you cut down the power of a flash (with speedlites and Einsteins that is) the amount of time the flash fires is shortened. So the more you take power away from a flash like I mentioned you’re cutting the time the flash lasts. Einsteins can get down to about 1/13,000th of a second. Speedlites are amazing and can get down to about a 64,000th of a second. That is quick enough to stop a hummingbirds wings!!!

Second… backlighting! Backlighting is the key to all things splash and glass. Learning how backlighting works and the effects you can create will open tons of doors for you. Now I know you’re saying “well Dave what is it all about?”. Well heck I gotta save some stuff for future articles but I promise you I will get into it. 

So while this shot isn’t that much it shows what you need to really know how to stop motion. It holds all the basic principles and those principles make me so happy…

Happy Dave

I started this little piece talking about studio lighting and how it makes life easy but isn’t needed didn’t I? And then I show you ton’s of studio lights, triggers, etc. Well sometimes deception can prove a point better than anything else. 

 The REAL Lighting setupThe real lighting setup

This image was actually shot with 2 Canon 430 EXII flashes and an Canon IR trigger. I bought the flashes used online for about $125 a piece and the trigger for about $120 used. So I showed you about $2700 in studio lights and accessories but in reality I created this with $370 worth of lighting.

This is what I hope to show you in the months to come. That you don’t need tons of money to create images, all you need it desire, want and need. Light is key. Understanding how it works, a fundamental understanding of flash duration, and a love for the art of photography will open so many doors for you.

Keep thinking about what you want to say in pictures and keep clicking!!!

Until next time I’m out…

P.S There are few more examples of how creatively corn syrup can be used :-)

Abused by Dave Nitsche
Abused by Dave Nitsche
truce  by Dave Nitsche
Truce by Dave Nitsche
Colorblind by Dave Nitsche
Colorblind by Dave Nitsche


3 responses on "Hi all… I’m Dave…"

  1. Hi Dave! Great photos! I wanted to know where I can buy a print of the multi colored sword? Great ideas too. I may just have to get my room a bit messy with corn syrup!

  2. Thanks for a really interesting article Dave. I’ve got a little disheartened seeing amazing images and then finding they used four figure lighting rigs which as a novice are out of my price range. Keep up the good work and the interesting photos.

    • Thanks Alex! Studio lights are a lot of fun and do make things a little simpler but you can create great images with relatively cheap light sources. It’s a lot of fun to experiment with them and see what you can come up with.

      Glad you liked the article.


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