Wet Portraits in the Studio: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey

Wet Portraits in the Studio: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey

February 28, 2020 99 By Peter Engel


In this video I show you how to take some really wet portraits in a small home studio. Hello I’m Gavin Hoey and your watching AdoramaTV, brought to you by Adorama the camera store that’s got everything for us photographers and today you join me in my small home studio, but you’ll notice it looks slightly different and I don’t just mean the fact we got some black fabric here, I think it’s probably the black tarpaulin hanging up here and the fact I’m standing in a paddling pool yeah, I’m going to do a portrait that involves splashing water. In fact we’re going to freeze the water rather than having it blurry will do that in a later video and to freeze the water I need flash So I’ve got my StreakLight 360 in a small Glow Softbox that would normally be the most important part for freezing water, but today there’s one thing that’s more important even than flash and it’s this. Today of all days you really need to know where your towel is because this is going to get wet and messy. I think I should’ve got a bigger paddling pool, but never mind let’s get a model in, set some lights up and we’ll get shooting so So today I’ve been joined in the studio by Sam who’s going to be the willing volunteer for this shoot. Now as you can see it’s a little bit damp around here already, because well I told Sam what we’re going to do. We’ve had a little practice because you really don’t want to spring this sort of shoot on your model, they need to be prepared, I think and Sam’s really brave to do this I think, crazy man, but it should be good fun. Now in order for this to work I said I needed flash and flash is the critical bit for this. The idea is I’ve got a streetlight 360 in a Softbox, I want that to have a very short flash duration, the lower the power the shorter the flash duration. Now I’ve set this to 1/64 power. I find anything under a 30 second power for the streetlight 360 is enough to freeze the water in midair. Now that leaves me three things I can control; I’ve got the ISO, the aperture and shutter speed. Shutter speed really easy flash synch speed 1/250 of a second for my camera, ISO I’m going to shoot 400 ISO so we’re not straining the flash too much, we can get that flash power down. That means I need an aperture and we can do trial and error or we could take a meter reading, but I’ve already metered this out. I know f4 balances this up. Now that’s something called the exposure triangle, get everything to balance and you’ll get a correct exposure. Check out the Adorama Learning Center for more information on that. So we’re going to have a couple of different ways of getting water on to Sam, but the first one is going to be nice and simple and hopefully not too wet, because we’re going to get wetter as we go through, so we’ll start with the technique. Make sure it works before we really get water over Sam and I’m just going to start by pouring water into his hand. I say, I’m going to do it, but of course I’m not, I’ve also got another Sam to help me as well, so Sam’s going to be pouring water, Sam is going to have water poured into his hand, try and follow along. We’ve set this up, I know this works, I already metered this out. Let’s just take a little test shot, make sure everything is ready to go. Okay yeah, I ‘m happy with that. Right, Sam if you want to pour some water in your own time, lovely, so that worked okay but there is a couple of things we can do to make this better, now most cameras including this one can do high speed shooting whether the flash can keep up is another matter, but one of the advantages of having the flash power down low, is not only does it freeze water but it recycles really quickly so I’m actually going to put my camera into high speed shooting mode so that’s 10fps on this. Let’s pour some more water, see how we go. Okay are you ready? Test shot first. Okay Sam and Sam, on three, two, one. Fantastic! Okay so it kept up pretty well until the bufferfield and that’s fine that worked really well we’ve got some great shots in there, lots of splashing. That looks really nice. Now you might be wondering why I’ve got the light in from behind, well the answer is really simple. I like the direction of light, it gives a lot more shadow and alot more drama to the shot also really illuminates the water, and there’s no reason why you can’t have the light at the front, it will look different, but it could work. The great thing about this sort of technique is experimentation and with that in mind we’ll just take a few shots like this and see what we get. Okay Sam do you want to put two hands out for me? Do you want to put a little water in there first of all Sam? That’s great. Okay, are you ready? In your own time, three, two, one. So for the second set up we’re going to get a little bit wetter, I say we’re going to get wetter? Sam is going to get a little bit wetter, sorry Sam but hopefully it should be a much more dramatic shot because we’re going to do a portrait, now I still got my light in the same position I ‘m just going to test the exposure. I know roughly what’s going to happen the idea is Sam is going to lean back, so let me just check the meter readings for there before he leans back, because it’s kind of hard work. I’m using my flash meter it’s still on f4, that’s terrific but I’m going to put this well out of the way. Water and anything electrical are a bad mix. Fortunately my camera is weather sealed, so a little bit of splashing, that’s not going to matter too much but you will find splashes go a long way and hopefully in one of my pockets hidden away is a small lens cloth, so len’s cloth is really, really useful for this shoot. If you have any spots of water on your lens it can really ruin the shot. Okay we’re good to go, same technique we’re going to get water poured this time onto Sam’s face by Sam. I’ve still got my high speed shooting, I’m going to take a test picture first of all. Yes we’re looking good. Okay is everybody ready? Okay, here we go on three. Ready, one, two, three. Fantastic! Now towels are a really essential part of this shoot. You’ll also notice that Sam is wearing black as well, because it means that, although you will get wet, it’s not going to completely ruin it for the next shot. If it was completely white, then it would go transparent, but black well it’s going to have a nice shiny look and hopefully that should add a little bit of to the shots as we progress, getting Sam wetter and wetter. Speaking of which we can change the setup ever so slightly to get a completely different shot. I’m just going to swing the lights around at 90 degrees, swing Sam around at 90 degrees and we’ll do exactly the same technique. Okay Sam are you ready? Okay let’s move things around a little bit. So for the last setup, once again, we have Sam in the paddling pool, once again we got the light in, roughly the same place as it’s been for some of the other shots, but this time there is going to be a bit more energy, because we’re literally going to throw water in Sam’s face. Sam’s going to throw water in Sam’s face and if we get this right we should get a great splash. Now this is where they really exciting stuff happens, that’s why we’ve saved it for last, because it could go horribly wrong. It could get really, really wet. Well let’s just try it and find out. Now once again, I’m going to take a test shot first of all, so let’s get this and make sure everything is where it should be. Okay test shot looks pretty good, right, so Sams! Are you ready? Okay hey, here we go on three. Ready? One, two, threee. Fantastic! So I’m still doing the 10 fps and I’m starting to press the shutter just as the water is coming in and that gives us a nice selection of shots. It’s a good start but for portraits to really come alive sometimes it’s the facial expression that makes all of the difference and I don’t think Sam is going to have much trouble with this, when I say Sam Can you give me a bit of yell? A kind of an “Ahh” okay Sam don’t aim at his mouth, because that would be really bad. Okay are you ready? Okay on three. Ready? One, two, three. Ahhh! Did you get that on the audio? Fantastic. Let’s just double check, that looks excellent. Again we’ve got a lovely selection of shots absolutely brilliant. Now water is a very unknown quantity. You can’t really plan that much for it. Every time you do it, t’s going to be slightly different. That means we’re going to do it a few more times, I’m so sorry Sam but when you’re wet you might as well have a few more goes at staying wet, by the way I should point out the water we’re throwing on Sam is ordinary tap water but we have at least warmed it up for him, a little. Okay, are you ready? We’re going do another “yelly” one, on three ready, one, two, three. “Ahhh!” Well I was right about one thing we really could have done with a bigger paddling pole or taken this outside, if it wasn’t so freezing cold but a little bit of water soon wipes away no damage done. Now if you enjoyed this video please leave me a comment below and if you want to see more videos from myself and the other amazing presenters right here in AdoramaTV you need to be clicking on that subscribe button. I’m Gavin Hoey, thanks for watching.