I was in the small local hardware store recently buying some glue. When I got to the check out the lady behind the counter told me I had picked a good day to come in as they were having a one day 30% off everything sale. Oddly, they had not bother to advertise this fact which seemed to me to defeat the purpose of the sale somewhat, but nonetheless, I left the glue at the counter and told the lady I just needed to pick up a couple of other things. I made a bee line to the back of the store where they keep all the sheets of acrylic. These are normally horrendously expensive, but with 30% off, they suddenly become much more affordable. I pulled out a large sheet of the dark grey (which I used in the Bad to the Bone and the Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday shots) and was just about to return to the counter when a sheet of brushed aluminium caught my eye. This was also very reasonable after lopping 30% off the price so I grabbed that as well.
I figured the aluminium would make an interesting surface or background for a model car shot but I also remembered a picture I had seen in a photography book. The book in question was "Still Life and Special Effects Photography" by Roger Hicks and Frances Schultz and the picture I remembered was called "Water Beads" by Kazuo Kawai. I decided to
shamelessly copy use the picture as the inspiration for the basis of my shameless copy interpretation.
The original used chromium plated steel as the metal base which I think would be much more mirror like than the brushed aluminium I was using. This would explain the problems I was having getting a good reflection in the bent metal at the bottom of the frame.
For the shot, I placed the aluminium flat on a table. To place the drops, I dipped a drinking straw in a cup of water and then closed the end with the tip of my finger. I placed the straw where I wanted the drop and uncovered the tip. With a bit of practice it was pretty simple to get a well placed drop with just the right amount of water.
The lighting was a couple of SB-28's placed one above the other behind a sheet of white frosted glass. It took a few test shots to work out that these only needed to be set on very low power (1/64th and 1/32nd in the end). I also added a second diffuser to reduce the output even further.
The curved reflection at the bottom of the picture is just a small piece of the aluminium cut off with a pair of scissors, bent and then propped up in front of the drops. The effect would have been much better with a shinier metal but I was still quite happy with the final result! :)
Setup shot here: Surface Tension Setup
Learn how to light: www.strobist.com