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This blog will be in no particular order, just a place to post non portfolio images and associated stories as I travel throughout my career as a visual artist. 

Shooting on the Cheap 16/365

Jan 16, 2017

Shooting on the Cheap

So, does gear matter?  I've seen that flying around all over the internet for so long.  The short answer is yes and no.  One could have all the gear in the world but be a crap photographer, or give someone with unlimited imagination and the right know how, with limited gear and budget and they will give you better images every time. 

This is all I used in the shot above.  A cheapy Nikkor 55mm macro from God knows when (I believe from the 60's?) and a single speed light.  The macro lens can be found at KEH (with adapter ring) for around $65.  https://www.keh.com/shop/nikon-55mm-f-3-5-micro-non-ai-compensating-npk-manual-focus-lens-52.html  I found them even cheaper for around $40 at other sites.  There is nothing about this image that could not be recreated with your entry-level DSLR and speedlight.  BUT speedlights are expensive, nope, I rarely if ever shoot in TTL mode on mine, and you can get a Neewer speedlight for $35 to learn, or this set with wireless trigger for 70 https://www.amazon.com/Neewer-Speedlite-Panasonic-Olympus-Cameras/dp/B01N76NAE7

Photography in general is all about problem solving and overcoming the limitations of your gear to get the desired result.  Just because one doesn't have a 30K lighting setup and Hasselblad doesn't mean you can't take amazing pics:)

Now on the opposite side of the argument, hell yeah gear matters!  Some shots you just can't do with a speedlight.  My D810 allows me crazy dynamic range and cropping abilities.  The Einsteins are great at freezing motion.  And, I have a lens, focal length and triggers for any occasion.  But it still boils down to learning the gear, the why's, and deciding for yourself how to do things with what you have:)

Ahhh the drip shot.

Ahhh the drip shot.

Now, on to the actual shot.  One speedlight behind and a bounce card in front.  Put it on 1/16th power or lower to be able to freeze motion.  It's not the shutter speed that freezes the drop, its the duration of the flash and for most speedlights the lower the power, the shorter the duration of light.  I put the camera in live view and focus with my hand by moving the dropper back and forth until its in focus.  I dont touch the camera or the lens.  Try and get the dropper in focus past the tile or surface so that when it drips, it can collect all on the paper towels below the tile.  Once, its in focus in live view, FREEZE your hand holding it, turn live view off, (there is a noticeable shutter lag when in live view and not), squeeze the dropper and take a couple shots.  You want to time it as close to when it falls.  These shots though are all a numbers game, the more you take the better your odds will be of getting something you like.  I've gotten it on the first try before, and other days it's taken hundreds of frames.  Find a rhythm and after doing it for so long now, I can almost anticipate when itll drop.

Using ejuice straight out of the bottle will give you the elongated drip like the intro picture, and using just plain VG or PG the viscosity is much thinner and it will be more like a circular drop.

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Sean HuolihanComment