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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Still Life, B/W & Experimental Talk
Thread started 26 Feb 2011 (Saturday) 12:36
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"Sound-activated" Paint Drop Walk-through...

 
katodog
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Post has been last edited 21 days ago by katodog. 2 edits done in total.
Feb 26, 2011 12:36 |  #1

Decided to make a little walk-through to show how I shoot the "sound-activated" paint drop shots. Figured maybe someone would want to try it out...


Setup for the paint drop shots is simple, all you really need is a speaker with a flat face, some plastic, and a flash. Well, of course you need your camera, and some paint, but the general idea is pretty simple, and it’s easy to accomplish with stuff that’s probably laying around the house.


Here’s a shot of the setup...

IMAGE: https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4495/38021821762_e864395c7b_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/ZVRL​X5] (external link)Paint Setup Shot (external link) by Edward Durbin (external link), on Flickr

First things first, you need a speaker, and you need some sound. The speaker has to at least have the ability to produce bass, so a subwoofer is preferred. The reason for this is because that’s where you get the paint “jumping” from, the lows in the music. I use a subwoofer from an old Creative Labs 5.1 surround system for computers. It has a flat face, so it makes it easy to get a flat platform for the paint. Basically pick your speaker, and cover the face with plastic. Any plastic will work, use a Ziploc bag, plastic window coverings, whatever. I’m using plastic from window coverings, you know, the kind that you put on your windows in the winter, and I just double-sided tape it to the speaker.

Put your camera on a tripod and set the lens to manual focus. Put something on top of the speaker where you’re going to place the paint and focus on that. Camera settings are personal preference but use full Manual control, mine are usually 1/250 exposure, and around f/8 to get a good field of focus. ISO settings are determined by how your flash power settings are, I’m usually between ISO200-ISO800, and the flash is set to 1/64-1/128 power. Main reasons for lower flash power is one you don’t need full power, and two it gives you much faster cycle rates, so you can shoot more shots in a row before the flash has to charge up. You also want to snoot the flash so the light is directed towards the paint, you won’t want any light spill-over onto your background.

Set the camera to burst mode, and using a remote shutter is preference, sometimes I use it but most of the time I don’t. The speaker I use has a volume control so I can stand next to the camera and shoot while adjusting the volume, and music is provided via my Zune mp3 player. If you use a simple speaker setup you probably won’t get enough volume out of the typical mp3 player like an iPod, Zune, etc.. You want to try and use a speaker that has it’s own volume control so you can jack it up high enough to get the paint to “jump” how you want it to.


That seems to be about it. It’s a simple thing to do, easy to setup, easy to shoot. As long as you have a speaker with a flat face, good “bumpy” music, and a flash you’re all set. You can light the setup with regular lamps, but you want the light to be intense enough to keep shutter speeds around 1/200-1/250 or you’ll start to get “fireworks” effects; where the paint starts to get blurry streams to it. Which, to be honest, is a cool effect, but I still prefer to use flash when shooting the slower shutter speeds so the paint get lit the way I want.

Editing to add "final results" shots...

IMAGE: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7143/6534072715_930a01c421_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: http://www.flickr.com/​photos/katodog/6534072​715/] (external link)
December 16 005 (external link) by Ed Durbin (Katodog) (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5012/5475066937_436c62e137_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: http://www.flickr.com/​photos/katodog/5475066​937/] (external link)
Water 288 (external link) by Ed Durbin (Katodog) (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5208/5333951031_5343821fbf_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: http://www.flickr.com/​photos/katodog/5333951​031/] (external link)
Water 237 (external link) by Ed Durbin (Katodog) (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5133/5475666264_cfefb5dc79_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: http://www.flickr.com/​photos/katodog/5475666​264/] (external link)
Water 297 (external link) by Ed Durbin (Katodog) (external link), on Flickr

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kaitlyn2004
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Feb 26, 2011 20:23 |  #2

Where is the final shots? And what about the mess from the paint going over the edge or similar?


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katodog
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Feb 26, 2011 20:51 |  #3

I've got shots around here somewhere...


Latest paint shots

Older shots

And now that I look back at those threads I see I gave info on the setup already. But, this thread is meant to be the official walk-through thread.


There really is no mess, the paint stays within a small distance from the speaker. It all falls either back onto the speaker or on the shelf-top, I think at the most I've had maybe two or three drops hit the floor. The way the paint reacts to the bumps in the music it goes upward instead of outward.


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Feb 27, 2011 22:03 |  #4

One more thing to add: The paint I use is Faber Castle "Creative For Kids Window Paint", which is the same as this...


Window Paintexternal link

I watered it down to a good consistency, it's a bit too thick to use straight out of the bottle. My suggestion would be to pour about half the bottle into another container to save for later, and then fill the paint bottle with water and shake it up. It's also really cool to work with because no matter what kind of mess you make it peels off easily with your fingernail or washes up with warm water.


Of course any water-soluble paint will work, I wouldn't use anything that won't mix with water or you'll have a hell of a time trying to clean up. Keep plenty of paper towels, toilet paper, tissue, etc., handy to wipe off the plastic so you can keep going. I shoot about 15-20 shots then wipe off the plastic and drop more paint on. You'll notice that after a decent run the paint thins out enough that you don't get much to shoot at.


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Mar 03, 2011 18:11 |  #5

Adding info from another member:

Dermit wrote in post #11947607external link
One thing I read was instead of the plastic try cutting up a large balloon and stretch the rubber over the speaker. It's supposed to give it a lot of bounce... and you can get them in many colors to compliment your paint choices.


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Mar 10, 2011 07:04 |  #6

I shot some with a white background yesterday, shots came out okay. I still need a little "refining" to get stuff worked out better. But, the basic idea was to hang a white background and see what happened.


It's the same basic setup, speaker, paint, flash, etc.. The only difference is that one flash I aimed toward the background to light it and fired one flash from the right to light the paint. I just need to work out the camera and flash settings better to keep the background white and make the paint come out looking better.


Camera settings: 1/250, ISO200, f/10. Flash power hitting background started at 1/8th but I dropped it down to 1/32 and 1/64. Things started to get grey there so I think I'll tinker with aperture and ISO to see how I can keep flash power low and still maintain the white background. Flash power for the paint was 1/16, but that's with a Digital Concepts E-TTL Pro flash, and it doesn't have the same power as my 550EX. If I used the 550EX for the paint power would be around 1/64-1/128.


IMAGE: http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5256/5513329293_1c58343d7b_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: http://www.flickr.com/​photos/katodog/5513329​293/] (external link)
Water 318 (external link) by Ed Durbin (Katodog) (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5220/5513925410_1e51fa46e5_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: http://www.flickr.com/​photos/katodog/5513925​410/] (external link)
Water 317 (external link) by Ed Durbin (Katodog) (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5216/5513925358_3fe78b7987_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: http://www.flickr.com/​photos/katodog/5513925​358/] (external link)
Water 316 (external link) by Ed Durbin (Katodog) (external link), on Flickr

I had to keep adjusting flash power to see what it would take to maintain the white background, and for the most part things came out okay. The background ended up a little grey so I had to process it for true white. But, I think after I figure things out as far as proper flash angle and camera settings the shots will get better. I shot these with the macro but I'll shoot some with the 18-200mm to see how things come out with that lens.


Funny thing is that the only paint that got on the background was under the plane of the speaker so it didn't interfere with the shots, and one drop flew high up on the background, and it was way out of frame so it didn't interfere either.

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k4show
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Mar 16, 2011 09:29 |  #7

I really want to do this but I'm waiting on batteries for my flash triggers :( Maybe I'll try it with an ETTL cord..


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Mar 30, 2011 13:51 |  #8

Thanks for all the helpful tips on the setup. I tried and failed today, I'm planning to give it another shot though. My problems were mostly with the paint and getting the bounce right. I tried to water down latex wall paint and couldn't get the consistency right, plus clean up wouldn't be easy. Then I tried just food coloring and water. That bounced up fine, but went all over the place, it doesn't stay centered on my speaker like the paint does.

Next time I'll try the balloon thing you mentioned and try the other paint.

Also, I knew there was a reason I shouldn't have tossed out that junky old pc subwoofer... I ended up using a 12" home theater sub which was kind of precarious to properly support in the middle of my room, too big to set on the end table.


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Mar 30, 2011 14:21 |  #9

Sometimes things take practice to get them worked out for the individual. A few things that will help are...


Make sure the plastic is tight across the speaker, and don't use a bare speaker. You want a flat surface so if the speaker has a face leave it on. If it's a bare speaker make a frame around it with cardboard, so the plastic isn't resting on the speaker itself.

Make sure it's all fairly level. If you're not level or pretty close to it the paint will eventually run to one side and the bounce won't be right.

Paint consistency shouldn't be a big issue, make it half paint/half water and you should be fine. Basically you just want water that's not see-through, so any paint-to-water ratio should work.

Don't use a lot of paint, the more paint you use the more "splash" you get and the less "bounce". Just about half a teaspoon/full teaspoon to start, and see what happens. also make sure you put the paint over the center of the speaker, that's where the most action is going to be.


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ErnDiggity
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May 02, 2011 17:30 |  #10

Thanks for the tutorial! Gonna try this for a photo project later on this week.


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May 02, 2011 17:54 |  #11

You're welcome, and don't make a mess!


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Jobin
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May 02, 2011 21:55 |  #12

ErnDiggity I live in Sac too! If you checkout my flickr you can see all my paint drop shots. http://www.flickr.com/​photos/elliottckhull/external link


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GopinathYorick
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Jul 07, 2011 05:43 |  #13

ErnDiggity wrote in post #12334944external link
Thanks for the tutorial! Gonna try this for a photo project later on this week.

I agree with you! I like it also it has its clean print. May I can use this for my presentation too.

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Jun 02, 2012 07:24 |  #14

Additional info: The different types of paint I use are...


"Creative for Kids" window paintexternal link, found in kits that kids can use to make paintings on the windows that peel off. This stuff is used in the majority of the shots where the paint is solid. It water's-down really good and cleans up well too. If you get it onto a surface and it dries, you can peel it right off. A washcloth with hot water will rub it off too.


Crayola Washable Finger Paintexternal link: The type I use came in a four-pack, and there are a few different types and a few different assortments of colors. These can be found almost anywhere, Hobby Lobby, Walgreen's, etc.. Any place that sells kids craft stuff like paints or marker should have something similar to this paint.

Different types and assortments:

Bottlesexternal link - These are the colors I have

Bottlesexternal link

Tubesexternal link

Tubesexternal link


I'm also using Crayola Washable kids paintexternal link. these come in a ten-pack, and there's a lot of good colors. Sadly for me my daughter used most of these paints before I snagged them, but they're pretty cheap, at Hobby Lobby they were $7.


There's a bunch of different stuff you can use I'm sure. I prefer to use washable kids paint because I figure if it's good enough for kids it must be pretty washable, so I don't have to worry about blasting it all over the floor and walls. So far I haven't gotten much anywhere but on top of the little bookshelf I use as a work surface, but the few drops that get on the floor clean up pretty good. Once I had to actually use a cleaner, like Resolve, but otherwise the washable stuff cleans up pretty easily. The window paints are harder to clean when they get on the carpet, but anywhere else, like a tabletop or the walls, this stuff pretty much peels off.


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"Sound-activated" Paint Drop Walk-through...
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