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There are three reasons to try a still life like this. First, motion in the frame is always eye-catching, especially motion of liquid. Second, beautiful bokeh polygonal flares look mesmerizing and nearly magical. Third, it’s a good opportunity to express your wanderlust and love for sea. Get a couple of stones, some sand, a message in a bottle, tiny wooden lighthouse or a single large seashell, and create your own story about black sails, storms, and adventure. Let’s get started! All hands on deck!

1. Gear and props

First of all, we need a light source suitable for shooting splashes. In my case it’s two speedlights: one in a strip box, another behind a diffuser.

You can shoot with natural light if you like, but if you do so, water drops may get a little blurry and won’t be transformed into polygonal flared bokeh. If you have a macro lens, use it, since it will allow to shoot from farther away and keep your camera safe from splashes.

We will need a spray bottle to make drops of water. It’s better to choose one that produces larger particles. If your spray creates something that looks like mist, you can replace it with a plastic bottle with tiny holes in the bottom and use it to scatter drops.

Pick some items you want to use to create a still life. It can be something pirate-themed, or pretty much anything that looks nice with water—say, fruits, flowers, leaves, or even lemonade bottles. Also, a steady tripod will come in handy.

2. ...

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