Cre­ative project Earth splash

Cre­ative pho­tog­ra­pher Mark Hunter shows you how to pro­duce a strik­ing im­age with not a great deal of ef­fort and quite a bit of fun

Digital Camera World - - PHOTO PROJECTS -

Look at the world in a whole new way with this

plan­e­tary ab­stract im­age. Us­ing a crys­tal ball, wa­ter and flash­guns, paired with an en­try-level DSLR and a kit lens, you can cre­ate your own Earth splash. A re­mote or wire­less shut­ter re­lease also al­lows you to move around and con­cen­trate on throw­ing the wa­ter, rather than reach­ing for the camera. As you will be throw­ing wa­ter around, a towel and a lens hood are use­ful tools to pro­tect your camera from splash dam­age and to pre­vent drop marks from ob­scur­ing your im­ages. As added pro­tec­tion, cling­film on your flash­gun pro­vides moulded wa­ter­proof­ing so you can still move the light and ac­cess all screens and di­als.

We moved the flash­gun off-cen­tre to cre­ate a nat­u­ral gra­di­ent from left to right, run­ning light to dark, across the back­ground. The re­sult­ing im­age was slightly un­der­ex­posed, but as it was shot in raw it could be fixed later in Pho­to­shop.

There are so many ways to vary this once you have nailed the process. For ex­am­ple, we’ve added a gra­di­ent, but you could put gels on your flash, or use more than one flash with dif­fer­ent-colour gels. And if the world is not enough for you, how about us­ing the Moon or other plan­ets? Or what about an eye, an ap­ple or a foot­ball? The spher­i­cal pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less…

Step 1

Get your props in place. We rested our crys­tal ball on the neck of a bot­tle, placed on a small ta­ble, with a small pad­dling pool be­low to col­lect the wa­ter. Don’t put your camera too close to the ball: the wa­ter ahead of and af­ter the splash can make the shot. Set your camera to ex­pose the white back­ground uni­formly. We used 1/160 sec, f/8, ISO 100 and set the flash to 1/128 power.

Step 2

Try to make sure the camera only sees what the flash­gun lights up. Stop it see­ing am­bi­ent light by tak­ing test shots of your static setup at 1/160 sec and ISO 100, with­out us­ing the flash, and ad­just­ing your aper­ture un­til the im­age is dark.

Step 3

Pre-fo­cus to the mid­point of the crys­tal ball, then switch to man­ual fo­cus to lock the set­tings. To take the shot, sim­ply throw, click, re­fill, re­peat. Once you get the hang of it, you shouldn’t need to check the camera too of­ten – just watch the front of your lens for stray splashes! Try hang­ing some coloured ma­te­ri­als or tow­els around the set, too.

Step 4

Open the im­age in Light­room. If your im­age is un­der-ex­posed like ours, lift the ex­po­sure by one and a half stops, lift the white point and drop the blacks. Un­der Lens Cor­rec­tions, tick ‘En­able Pro­file Cor­rec­tions’ and ‘Re­move Chro­matic Aber­ra­tion’. Crop the im­age to frame the sphere in the cen­tre and to lose out-of-fo­cus wa­ter.

Step 5

Take the im­age to Pho­to­shop to re­move the bot­tle neck and re­move out-of-fo­cus splashes. Make a copy of the layer (Ctrl/Cmd+J); make a se­lec­tion of the bot­tle neck, then use a brush with 100% hard­ness, opac­ity and flow to paint over the bot­tle with a colour sam­pled from near the se­lec­tion. (Alt-click on a colour to sam­ple it.)

Step 6

Shoot a globe or find a stock im­age of the Earth. Put this on a sep­a­rate layer be­low the crys­tal ball layer. Re­duce the crys­tal ball layer’s Opac­ity. On the Earth layer press Ctrl/ Cmd+T then re­po­si­tion the Earth within the crys­tal ball. Re­turn the crys­tal ball’s Opac­ity to 100% and set its Blend Mode to Dif­fer­ence. Ad­just the Earth opac­ity to blend it.

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