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High-Speed Photography with Splashes, Flashes, and a Fish Tank (Photography Tutorial)



An inexpensive 10 gallon fish tank was purchased at Walmart for about $12 and was being elevated by two ladders and a strong wooden board between each one. A Squeegee thingy was also purchased with the tank to remove water drops that splash onto the surface of the glass after dropping fruit or vegetables. You will also want to get some Windex and some paper towels to remove any smudges or residue from the glass before setting it up for photos.

20X30 foam board (black) was used as the background. It was being held up by a reflector holder which was attached to a light stand. You can make the background darker if you move it further away from the fish tank, but you will need something bigger than a 20x30 board.

A Nikon SB-700 Flash was underneath the tank on a tripod, aimed up at the board (you only need this flash if you are using a white background) while two LumenPro LP160 flashes were attached to the two light stands on 1/32 power.

One LP160 flash was  above the water aimed downward; this casts the reflections coming from the water surface onto your subject. The second flash was in front of the fishtank, towards the right side, aiming slightly upward at the pepper. You can position the lights in any way you want, this is just how I was doing it for this session.

You may want to get some adjustable brackets to mount to the top of the light stands in order to tilt the flash up and down.

All flashes have RF-602 receivers attached to them, although you can set any given flash to "Slave mode" and it will fire whenever it detects another flash firing, so you don't necessarily need three RF-602 receivers on all of your flashes if you are working in a small studio space like this; you really only need one. The RF-602 receivers can also be placed on any standard tripod screw, so if you already have an extra tripod but no light stands handy, you can just use a regular tripod.

The LumenPro LP160 flashes are only $170 and have the same amount of light output when compared to the Nikon SB-900, a flagship flash that costs $500! Keep in mind the LP160's are manual flashes; nothing about them is automatic. This doesn't bother me at all because I mostly use manual mode anyway.

The camera that was being used (least important item) was a Nikon D300s with a 50mm prime lens and the RF-602 transceiver to fire the flashes when the camera takes a picture.

Last but not least: The stuff you drop into the fish tank! In the video I was using regular peppers, but you can use anything.  Legos, coins, lemons, limes, miniature pumpkins... you can even just use your fist to punch the water in anger if you can't decide what to use.



The waterline was removed in Photoshop in the photo above.

If you liked this tutorial and want more, be sure to check out my Trick Photography and Special Effects ebook+video course.

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Comments (94) Trackbacks (20)
  1. As always, excellent tutorial in a relaxed and down to earth environment. keep up the great work and many thanks for your guidance.

  2. oooo000 :LD like 😀

  3. I love your works
    Very creative and clavier
    And also the information that you give us a very precise and distinctive that you plz keep going …

  4. Great tutorial, I agree and thx for showing as the tips and tricks. But eish, I am now seasick, crosseyed and nauseous due to the movement of the video camera that taped the whole session. Surely it can be improved on? Please?

  5. really, really very simple i will try in my home and the images

  6. Thanks for the great tutorial, I have tried most of your tutorial like the hands in the computer optical illusion and other but this is one of the best and expensive For this tutorial need to invest in extra flash , Can we do the tutorial with regular fluorescent lighting ?

  7. Can you do the splash photography with only one external flash?

  8. Very cool man, thanks! I will try it.

  9. Great video – how do you get sharp focus? What point do you focus on?


  10. I am more curious as to how your hand was photographed, especially with certain areas not showing any water content?

    As always, awesome work Evan. I love your photoshop techniques and very easy tutorials.

  11. Outstanding.
    Thanks Evan

  12. realy i have no word thankas keep going u r grate

  13. awesome but this isnt new on the email that i got it said new

  14. that’s awsome ! I learned a lot about NICE pictures here ! 😉
    Thank you very much ! Keep on going !

  15. Love it and thanks so much for sharing can’t wait to try it.

  16. That hand punching the water is awesome!

  17. Hey Roy (from Sept 7th comment above)… If the word “new” bothers you so much, I have an easy solution. Just hit the “unsubscribe” option. Maybe you photograph peppers every day but most of us out here find these bits that the Photo Extremist sends us are informative, if not entertaining. I hope that young man doesn’t get discouraged by the ignorant people of the world.
    Great Job Evan!

  18. I agree with Eric comments about Roy`s “New” thing.
    Evan, you do a great job, we all appreciate it and like Eric is saying ,please do not get bother by the remark after all there all kinds of people in this world.

    keep your great work and remember “new,old or whatever we all love your work”

  19. I can’t wait to try this out! Thank you. I love learning “NEW” to me ideas and how to go about achieving them. Everytime i get your email i am excited to try and learn. Can’t wait for the next learning experience!!!

  20. Really appreciate the time you took to make this clip-it was especially helpful to see your setup & settings that were used for this shoot!
    I will definitely share this Video!


  21. Fun fun fun, awesome how you teach having so much fun. I do learn in the same way. Thank you!

  22. You are amazing! I love your videos. They make me try things with photography that I never thought to try before. And you make them fun and interesting. THANKS SO MUCH!! 🙂

  23. I haven’t really worked with flash, so I am a little confused on how the light pointed at the fish tanks glass doesn’t cause a reflection….is it shutter speed?

  24. Eric, I just found your videos today and you have me excited to try a bunch of stuff. I like your approach and casual manner that relays good information in a simple fashion that even I can understand.

    Verniqua, if you remember your 8th grade science class when you were studying light, “angle of incidence equals angle of reflection.” So if the flash is off to the side pointed at the tank glass at an angle, the glass will reflect the flash as the same angle to the other side and not at the camera lens. Only if the flash was on the camera would it reflect back at the camera. I hope that makes sense.

  25. That is awesome. Really appreciate this.


  26. Great article! That is the type of information that should be shared around
    the web. Disgrace on Google for no longer positioning this
    put up higher! Come on over and discuss with my web site .
    Thanks =)

  27. Super great and very helpful – thanks for doing an outstanding job making the process seem achievable and affordable. Keep up the great work!

  28. Interesting and effective approach. Thanks for sharing!!!!

  29. Wow, this is really really great photography.
    Great !!!

  30. Awesome,awesome,awesome. Totally awesome.

  31. could you use constant light instead of flashes?

  32. Could you recommend a flash that could be used in this situation for under $50?

  33. Hey, that was just great and seemed really doable. Thanks, Evan, for all these wonderful tutorials. Just keep ’em coming.

  34. Hi! I was really enjoying your video.
    why don’t you use lower aperture number instead of F14 (F4 or even F2.8 for example) and use even lower flash power? Depth of field would be enough for these kind of shots.

  35. Wwwaaahh.. Really nice and easy to follow beginners like me. Thanks a million

  36. Nice clear instructions. And fantastic results. I did this also, but used a vase and dropped an orange in to Black current juice. It came out pretty good. Cheers Evan.

  37. Great photo Evan. Your course is very informative and I think a lot of people miss the point that it does take practice. After all everyone starts at the beginning and improve as we go along.

  38. To the person that said about ‘New’ & the people complaining about the person that said about ‘New’, you ALL need to chill out!!! You’re all aggravating the tutor!!!

    Thanxx tute! Another one well done! 🙂

  39. this video tutorial is my favorite…thanks

  40. You’re awesome!

  41. Just splash it!!! awesome one 🙂

  42. great stuff and keep it coming.
    have a dvd of yours and have to find it, view it and then order your new stuff as do not want repeats.
    very clear guidance and keeps one await

  43. That’s is really awesome

  44. That’s really cool bro

  45. This was awesome love it thank you so much for your advice leadership tutorials and help greatly appreciated

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