Monthly Archives: June 2013

Using the Panasonic Lumix LX7 for Water Drop Photography

I have written a couple of posts over the last week or so about my experiments in water drop photography using the StopShot control equipment that I recently purchased. The StopShot is one of several devices that are sold for the purpose of triggering a camera and/or one or more flash units to freeze high-speed actions such as the splashing of water drops into a tray of water or other liquid. (Others include the Time Machine from www.bmumford.com; and the Universal Timer from www.universaltimer.com.)

My previous attempts were done with the Sony DSC-RX100 camera. I chose that camera  in part because it has a BULB setting for shutter speed, so you can press the shutter button and hold the shutter open while triggering the flash with the StopShot. As I learned more about the techniques that others use, I realized that the camera you use does not have to have a BULB setting. Instead, you can set the shutter speed to a fairly long setting, such as 0.5 second, and then make sure you trigger the flash while the shutter is open.

With that realization, the range of cameras I can use for photographing water drop splashes increased dramatically. All of the cameras I have written books for have shutter speed settings of 0.5 second and longer. So I decided to test the StopShot setup with the Panasonic Lumix LX7. (Of course, the Leica D-Lux 6, being similar to the LX7, would operate in much the same way for this purpose.)

I won’t discuss all the details of setting up the equipment and taking the pictures; further information about the setup is available in my first post and second post about water drop photography with the Sony RX100. The only difference in this case is that I set the shutter speed to 0.5 second, and, because of that, I was able to use the self-timer (set to 2 seconds), to avoid camera shake from physically touching the camera. It was not difficult to press the button on the StopShot to release a pair of water drops at the right time; I soon learned to press that button just as the self-timer ran out and the half-second exposure began. Then, the flash fired to capture the water drops colliding while the shutter was  open.

For the photos in the gallery below, I aimed the Yongnuo flash unit at a deep red sheet of paper on the wall behind the water tray, so the water was illuminated by the red flash bouncing off the wall. The streaky patterns below the water tray are from streaks of water on a piece of paper placed beneath the tray. The shots below are my first water drop shots taken with a setting other than BULB. I hope to do more experiments with other cameras in the future.

Panasonic Lumix LX7 Collision of Two Water Drops 1

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More Water Drop Photography with the Sony RX100

A little over a week ago I wrote about my first attempts at water drop photography using the Sony DSC-RX100 camera, using its BULB setting to hold the shutter open while the flash fires and the drops hit the water. Those first attempts were interesting, but not all that successful. Since then, I have switched to using a different type of infrared sensor, which has given me more consistent results. I also purchased an excellent e-book on the subject called The Ultimate Guide to Water Drop Photograpy, by Corrie White (same last name as me, but no relation). Using the new equipment and several helpful tips from the e-book, I adjusted my setup in several ways. I placed a green-colored translucent sheet over the Yongnuo flash to add color, and I used a larger tray for the water. I found a better way to adjust the focus, by standing a small handbell in the tray of water where the drops hit, and focusing on the bell’s handle. I used microphone stands to hold up the infrared sensors, instead of tripods, so the setup is much less cluttered than before and it is possible to adjust everything so the drops hit in a good location to capture interesting splashes and collision.

Once I had everything set up in the new arrangement, I was able to experiment with the timing of the drops. I think the results this time were definitely better than the results from last week. In the gallery below, there is a shot of the new setup, followed by the actual water drop shots. The first of those shots shows the crown shape that results when a single drop splashes into the water. The other shots all involve double drops. For those shots, the StopShot equipment releases two drops so that one drop will collide with the other. Once the timing is adjusted properly, you can get results like those shown here, when the collisions between the drops produce a fairly dramatic pattern of water spreading out in a circle.

I plan to keep working on this type of photography, and I will post more shots if I find ways to improve the results.

Setup for Taking Images of Water Drops

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Canon PowerShot S110 Guide Book is Now Available in Paperback from Amazon.com

As of today, Photographer’s Guide to the Canon PowerShot S110, a full-color, 411-page guide to the operation of the PowerShot S110 camera, is available for ordering from Amazon.com. To see the book’s information page at Amazon, you can search for a part of the title in the Books category at Amazon, or just click on the cover image below to go directly to the product page:

The PowerShot S110 book also is available in downloadable formats through this site. For more information, please see the book’s main information page.

Panasonic Lumix LX7 Double Exposure

Multiple Exposure with the Panasonic Lumix LX7

Yesterday I was reading an excellent book called Tabletop Photography, by Cyrill Harnischmacher (Rocky Nook, 2012). The book includes a lot of good information about equipment and techniques for this sort of photography, and has some interesting examples. At page 77, I came across an example of a double exposure in which a violin was photographed in its case, with the case both open and closed, giving a sort of x-ray vision effect of seeing the violin inside the closed case. In discussing the technique he used to make this image, the author stated, “One prerequisite for doing this, of course, is that your camera have a multiple exposure mode.”

At that point, my mind immediately jumped to the Panasonic Lumix LX7 (and its near-twin, the Leica D-Lux 6), because the LX7 has a Multiple Exposure option on its Recording menu. I’m not sure how many cameras nowadays are equipped to do multiple exposures, but this is one of the few cameras that I’m aware of that can do this. So, I decided to see if I could come close to taking a double exposure like the one in Mr. Harnischmacher’s book.

I don’t have a violin, but I do have a ukulele, and it has a nice case. I set it up with a couple of flash units aimed at it, triggered by a radio transmitter. One great thing about doing the picture with the LX7 is that you can use this menu option with the Raw format and with the Manual exposure shooting mode, both of which I took advantage of. I selected the Multiple Exposure item on the Recording menu and started experimenting. I set the Auto Gain option of the Multiple Exposure menu item to Off, because I wanted to adjust the relative exposures of the two shots myself.

I found that, if I used the same exposure for both shots, the image of the ukulele in the open case overwhelmed the image of the closed case, so you could not see the closed case that well.

I wanted the final image to look as if you are seeing inside the closed case, so I reduced the exposure for the image of the ukulele in the open case. I used the ND (neutral density) filter option on the LX7 to do that, and ultimately I ended up by taking the shot of the instrument in the open case at f/8.0 with an exposure for 1/50 second at ISO 80, using the ND filter. (This exposure is equivalent to 1/400 second without the ND filter.) I took the shot of the uke in the closed case at f/8.0 for 1/320 second, which amounts to just a slightly longer exposure. Here is the final result:

Panasonic Lumix LX7 Double Exposure

Double Exposure Taken with Panasonic Lumix LX7

This image basically accomplished what I set out to do–making it look as if you can see inside the closed case.  I did not make any adjustments in Photoshop, other than doing a little bit of sharpening. I’m sure it could be improved in various ways, but I wanted to display it just as it came out of the LX7.  Of course, you could do the same thing using the Leica D-Lux 6, which has almost all of the same menu options as the LX7.

Paperback Proof of Canon PowerShot S110 Book Has Been Approved

About an hour ago I received the proof copy of the paperback version of Photographer’s Guide to the Canon PowerShot S110, my newest camera guide book. The book looked fine, and so I went online to the printing company’s web site and approved it for production. This means that the book’s information will now be transmitted to Amazon.com and other online sellers, and the book will start appearing on the Amazon sites in the near future. Based on past experience, it should be available for ordering at Amazon.com within the next 3 or 4 days. I will post updates at this site as the printed version of the book becomes available.

I am including some images of the printed book here, so you can have an idea of what the paperback version looks like. Its size is 5.5 by 8.5 inches (140 by 216mm). It has 411 pages and more than 300 illustrations.

CanonS110FrontCoverWKPCanonS110BackCoverWKP

CanonS110InteriorWKP

Of course, the PowerShot S110 book is already available for purchase in downloadable versions formatted as PDF, ePub, and mobi files. The PDF version can be read on any computer that uses Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat, or any other reader of PDF files. It also can be read on iPads, Kindles, and other devices. The ePub version is intended for reading on the iPad, iPhone, Nook, Kobo and Sony readers, and other devices that can read ePub files. The mobi version is for the Kindle.

For more information about the book, please see the book’s main information page at this site.

Canon PowerShot S110 Book is Now Available for Kindle at Amazon.com

The latest camera guide book from White Knight Press, Photographer’s Guide to the Canon PowerShot S110, is now available for purchase for the Kindle e-reader at the Amazon.com site for $9.99. To purchase the Kindle version or to see the product information page at Amazon, you can search for the book by title at Amazon in the Kindle category, or click on the button below:

The PowerShot S110 book is also available through the White Knight Press site in a PDF version. A version for iPad and other devices that use the ePub format will be available by late June 2013, and the paperback version of the book will be published by late June or early July.

Paperback Version of Guide Book for Canon PowerShot S110 Camera is Coming Soon

PowerShotS110CoverWKPToday I received word that the paperback version of Photographer’s Guide to the Canon PowerShot S110 will be available soon. The printing company has approved the files I submitted, and the next step is for them to print a proof copy and send it to me for my approval.  That should happen within the next few days.  If all goes well, the proof copy should be approved by the end of this week, and then the book will start to become available for sale at online sites, including Amazon.com and others.  I also expect to have some copies for sale through the White Knight Press eBay Store.  Please check back with this site for further news, or send a message to contact@whiteknightpress.com if you would like to be notified when the paperback version is available. The PDF version is available for sale now through this site, and versions for the Kindle, iPad, and other compatible devices should be available within the next few days.

Water Drop Photography with the Sony DSC-RX100 Camera

For a long time I have admired high-speed photographs that capture images of subjects like speeding bullets, bursting balloons, and splashing drops of water or other liquids. Over the past couple of days I finally got the opportunity to try out this type of photography myself using my Sony DSC-RX100 camera.

I am not enough of a handyman to put together the necessary components for these shots on my own, so I ordered a kit from a company called Cognisys, Inc.  I purchased their StopShot Water Drop Photography Kit, which includes the StopShot control device, a special valve that releases water drops, and the necessary cables to connect it all together. (There is a picture showing it as I set it up in the gallery at the bottom of this post.)

Once I had the kit set up so that water drops would be released on the press of a button, I connected up my flash unit, a Yongnuo Speedlite YN560. I chose that unit because it has a standard PC connection for a flash cord, which is necessary in order to synchronize the system. Once the flash was set up and the control unit was properly programmed, when I pressed a button the valve released a drop of water that splashed into a bowl of water about 24 inches (61 cm) below the valve, and the flash fired just as the water drop splashed into the bowl of water.

One reason the Sony RX100 camera is good for this type of photography is that it has a BULB setting for shutter speed. With the BULB setting, the shutter stays open for as long as you hold down the shutter button and closes only when you release the shutter button. With the use of the BULB setting, you don’t have to control the camera with the control unit.

In order to take a water drop picture with this setup, here is how I proceeded. With the StopShot equipment set up and synchronized, I set up the RX100 on a solid tripod–a Manfrotto 055XPROB with a 322RC2 joystick head. I set the camera to take Raw images in Manual exposure mode. I set the aperture to f/9.0 in order to get a broad depth of field, set the shutter speed to BULB, and used manual focus, because the camera would be shooting in the dark and it would be hard to use autofocus on a fleeting drop of water.

I dimmed the lights in the room to reduce the ambient light that might show up in the image. Then I pressed the shutter button to open the shutter in BULB mode, and immediately pressed the button on the StopShot control unit to release a drop of water. As soon as the drop hit the water in the bowl and the flash fired, I released the shutter button.

It took quite a few attempts and numerous misfires before I got a few shots that looked the way I hoped they would–with well-formed drops captured just above the water. As you can see in the images in the gallery below, I tried a couple of different angles.  I also experimented briefly with the procedure for releasing two drops of water in rapid succession, in hopes of capturing a collision between the two drops. I didn’t ever achieve a collision, though I did catch two drops in the last two images shown here.

Overall, I was quite happy with the StopShot setup, because it came with sufficient instructions for me to get it running without too much difficulty and it worked well, though it took a good deal of fiddling to get everything synchronized properly.

Apart from the tinkering with the StopShot system, the biggest difficulty I had was in getting the images focused sharply. I used the MF Assist menu option to focus on an enlarged image, and focused on a pencil head above the bowl where I expected the water drop to end up, but I don’t think I ever got the focus point to be exactly where it needed to be. In part, the difficulty in focusing stemmed from the RX100’s relatively large sensor, which gives the camera a relatively shallow depth of field. This situation makes it fairly easy to achieve a nice blurred-background effect, but it makes it a little harder to get completely sharp focus in a situation like this, when I was focusing on a very small point at a close distance.

Anyway, the gallery below has a picture of the setup I used, followed by the best of the single-drop and two-drop images that I managed to capture with the Sony RX100.

Setup for Water Drop Shots with Sony DSC-RX100 Camera

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Photographer’s Guide to the Canon PowerShot S110 is Now Available in a PDF Version

PowerShotS110CoverWKPAs of today, Photographer’s Guide to the Canon PowerShot S110 is available for purchase through this site in a downloadable PDF version for $9.95.  This new book follows up on earlier White Knight Press guides to the PowerShot S95 and S100.  This guide is longer than the previous ones, at 411 pages, and contains more illustrations — more than 300 full-color images, including screen shots as well as many images taken by the PowerShot S110 itself, demonstrating the results that can be achieved with its various shooting modes and features.  For further information, please see the main information page for the book at this site. Other versions of the book in paperback and for Kindle and iPad will be released within the next few weeks.

Miniature Effect Movie with Canon PowerShot S110 Camera

The newest camera guide book coming from White Knight Press is Photographer’s Guide to the Canon PowerShot S110. The book is now in its final editing stage and should be published before the end of June. In this post I’m going to include a video from the camera so readers of the book (and others) will be able to see how the camera handles a particular video task.

The PowerShot S110 is a sophisticated camera, especially for its very compact size, and it has numerous shooting modes. One of those modes, called Creative Filters, includes several interesting and useful effects. In this case, I used the Miniature Effect setting, which simulates shooting tabletop miniature models by blurring edges of the image while leaving a central area in sharp focus. You may have seen this effect used in television commercials or as a special effect on a reality show, where the producers show a speeded-up street scene with lots of people and traffic that looks as if it were filmed on a miniature set.

The book contains a still-image example of the Miniature Effect setting, but this setting is probably more often used for movies, so I am including a video example here. I took the PowerShot S110 to the Dominion Riverrock festival in Richmond, Virginia, on May 17, 2013, to take various shots. I saw some people practicing for the Stand Up Paddleboard event, and I took the opportunity to film a short segment of that action using the Miniature Effect setting. Whenever that setting is used for a movie, the PowerShot S110 speeds up the action and records the video with no sound. Here is the video, as posted at YouTube:

As I noted above, I have usually seen this effect used for street scenes, and I’m not sure how well it works for this water action, because it may not look as much like a model as a street scene would. Anyway, I always enjoy using the “creative” settings on the cameras I write about, and the Miniature Effect setting is one of the more interesting ones to play around with.