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Since I live in a small, provincial town at the End of the World, I don’t have access to any fancy machinery to help me shoot splashes for my photos. I can only daydream of having a machine that can pour liquid at exact angles, with precise speed—definitely not something I can easily pick up in a local store. If you’re a still life photographer wanting to capture unique images, you might be having the same problem. This doesn’t mean we should miss out on all the fun and resort to keeping our still life images—well—still. I’m here to show you how you can shoot a dynamic image with falling cups and splashing liquid using only two speedlights and a glue gun.

The key to shooting splashes is to have as much control as possible. Precise control of pouring liquid is very hard to achieve, but we can control how our “falling” cups steady in the air. For this work, use professional clamps or improvised tools, like knitting needles and a glue gun. As for camera gear, you’ll need a camera, tripod, and any light source, suitable for shooting at high speed. In my case, I used two speedlights—one inside a small softbox and another behind a large diffuser. A remote would be a big help too, but it’s not a requirement. Let’s do this!

1. Collect the props.

Gather all the things you need for your still-life. You’ll need a couple of coffee cups, some cookies, a couple of sugar cubes—anything you find suitable. Don’t forget you’ll need lots and lots of coffee. You’ll also need your support for the “falling” cups and a glue gun.


2. Composition.

Arrange a composition and leave some space for a future splash to appear in your shot. In my case, the whole bottom part of an image is almost empty, so moving liquid wouldn’t ruin any important parts of a still-life.

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