We have another Photo Premium tutorial exclusively available to Premium members today. In this tutorial, we’ll teach you how to create a photo of person "floating" on water. Learn more after the jump!
Two days after Christmas, I was out at the crack of dawn with my friends, in water, photographing a model. I'll talk about how this shoot came to be and how much planning and work it took to pull off this "quick 'n dirty" concept.<
You'll also see just how little gear was used to pull off these shots and that the bulk of the work was in the planning and having good understanding of photographic technique to execute what was bouncing around in my brain.
Since we're going to be bringing electricity and water together, safety is a big issue. To reduce the risk of electric shock, keep all flashheads, cable connections, batteries, and power packs out of the water and dry. Have someone whose sole job is to supervise the electrical equipment and keep it safe.
Also, since this shoot takes place on a lake in Florida, there is a small chance that an alligator could be lurking around. To mitigate the risk, we shot early morning, in the shallows, and had someone keep a constant eye out the entire time.
Alligators are reptiles and therefore cold-blooded. They need the sun to warm up before becoming active. I planned to be done before the alligators, if any, started basking.
When doing productions like this, don't cut corners. Have clear instructions for your team and assemble and use your rigging properly. Make sure everybody knows their role. Don't endanger your friends just to get a nice shot.
The plan is to photograph an attractive young lady and make it appear as if she is standing on the water. I wanted the sky to be a dramatic sunrise or sunset and the water's surface to be calm and hopefully mirror-like.
The sketch of the general idea and likely lighting setup.
The idea is simple enough, but how do I get her on the water without Photoshop?
I personally don't like using Photoshop to do heavy lifting with my photography. I want to get as much done inside the camera so that post-production isn't as much of a pain.
With this idea in mind, I set about looking for a suitable place. I knew of a nearby lake in a public park that could work, but didn't know what it would look like a dawn. So, there I was, December 26th, sitting in a park waiting for the sun to come up so I can figure out my camera settings and shooting window. It was important that I knew what my sky was going to look like, where I was going to shoot, and how long I had to do it since I was going to have people come in from their vacations before sunrise.
Take your camera with you on location scouts. You never know what you'll find.
I had about 15 to 20 minute window of excellent light where the sky was the right rainbow of colors and my shadows wouldn't be filled in by the ambient. I snapped several photos and noted the ISO, shutter, aperture, and times of the photos that were within that window. That way, I could be dialed-in and ready before that window opens so I could use every minute of it.
The technical challenge of this shoot wasn't going to happen with the lighting or the camera settings or any of that stuff. It was going to be how do I get her onto the surface of the water and not have to retouch things like platforms, assistants' arms, or poles? I also, didn't want to spend a ton of money on rigging (that already went to Christmas gifts).
I figured out the best way to save money was to DIY a platform and weigh it down with sandbags from a local landscaping business. Just a few dollars. To save even more I chose a location where the water was shallow and the floor level, about thigh-deep. Choosing such a shallow depth meant I didn't need as much material to get my model high enough.
I hopped over to Home Depot to get my materials for the platform and pick up a roll of heavy-duty painter's tape - a good substitute for gaffers tape. I stumbled across something better than a DIY pathway and it was a $9 stepping stool, in black, and the right height! Sometimes you just get lucky.
DIY is great, but this was better.
Final Image Preview
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