In ‘SMASH’ I obliterated a number of kitchen items in order to experiment with freezing action through a faster shutter speed. I set up a typical black backdrop for the photos and shot them inside a room that I use as a studio.
Method: Placed plates against a backdrop and aimed missiles at them with the intention to freeze the various stages on the image. There was one success, one reasonable and one failure in the process. I depict the images below that illustrate the issues and then explain some more on how It went.
Below is the series of four frames in the first attempt.
Reflecting on how it went, I see that there were two fundamental problems. Firstly, the setting was too dark which meant that I needed to use a shutter speed lower than desired as I did not want to overwhelm the image with flash. Secondly I worked alone (no assistant) which meant I had to concentrate on the process of doing the ‘smashing’ as well as photographing. Not of course ideal.
A shutter speed of 1/200 of a second was not adequate to freeze more closely the action within the image. It would have been better at 1/500 minimum. Therefore the set of images here don’t show the mess of the breakage or as much control of the light as I would have liked.
The lighting for the two sets bellow was a speed light used with a small honey comb grid to intensify and direct the light. The flash light was aimed upwards to bring the light directly down from above. This is a form of lighting I am quite fond of as it produced a somewhat dramatic effect on the subject casting quite strong shadow on the upper part of the item, be it face or a thing. The speed light was powered down to almost minimal capacity at -2 2/3 and later -3 ETTL.
Relatively speaking this phase of the exercise was better than a the last as I captured the movement of the missile by taking the images in continuous shoot for about 8 frames. The shutter speed was the same as was the ISO and aperture. Quite simply, I introduced two elements which improved the image a little: better set up of the photo and continuous shooting which allowed to capture a bit more of the action.
Here, I have the failure. I changed tack with the exercise by this time dropping the object from a height. Unfortunately one needs to take into account the basic science of dropping the object and the way the object itself reacts to contact with the hard surface. The glass exploded but so quickly I only captured the end result rather than the process. This is where the 1/200 sec. did not serve at all. Lesson learnt: use an assistant and increase shutter speed.
For lighting I used a speed light with a small soft box placed on top of the camera. I directed the light to the wall for this final shot and also put in a green gel to see what effect it would have on the light. This was a bit experimental of course as that’s not usually the purpose of flash gels.