How to Use Flash to Capture Razor Sharp Water Splash Photos

Splashing water moves fast. To capture sharp photographs of it, you’ll need to have good lighting with a quick refresh time. But, when picking out your light source, don’t overlook the importance of the power pack. You need one capable of refreshing your lights in very rapid succession. In the video below, Kai works out all the details and gets to play with a king of power packs, the Broncolor Scoro 3200 S:

Breaking Down the Lighting System: Understanding T Times

Before we get to the photo taking part, let’s geek out over the new Broncolor Scoro 3200 S which has already been dubbed “the unbeatable”—or as Kai likes to call it, a “Swiss Made Sexy Box.” With a flash duration span from 1/85 to 1/8000 sec. (T 0.1 or t.1) the 3200 S offers motion-stopping capability that exceeds any other strobe system currently available.

Understanding T times can be a bit confusing, but in a nutshell, T 0.5 and T 0.1 are standard measurements used in flash technology and are an important part of understanding what a flash is capable of doing. Have a look at this chart to get a better understanding of flash duration:

The quick rise, peak, and fall of a flash firing.

The quick rise, peak, and fall of a flash firing.

What the chart shows is a single flash fire. Note how the light intensity rises quickly to 100 percent, where it stays for only a short time before quickly dropping and then more slowly trailing off to lower intensities. A T 0.5 time indicates the duration of the flash at 50 percent or greater intensity, whereas a T 0.1 time indicates the duration at intensities above 10 percent. That noted, a T 0.1 time is closer to three times more than a T 0.5 time.  Rapid and fast action shooters, like those of us trying to capture water splashes, will benefit more from  T 0.1. If you are in the market for purchasing flashes and/or power packs, it would be wise to study T times more closely so you know exactly what the numbers mean.

This would also be an appropriate time to mention the 3200 S is kind of expensive. Okay, really expensive. But, there are alternatives that don’t include all the bells and whistles as the 3200 (read: less expensive) that are suitable enough for what most photographers are trying to accomplish; just do your research.

Enough tech speak…

Freezing Motion With a Flash

If you’re going to be working with water—splashing water in particular—it’s a good idea to waterproof your workspace. This includes the floor, lights, powerpacks, basically anything you don’t want to get wet. Break out the plastic sheeting and start covering everything in range that you’re concerned about.

sharp_water_splash_3So long as you’re not the one having water thrown at you, this is where the fun starts. Have an assistant toss some water at your model while you instantaneously start firing away in continuous mode. The hardest part is being able to capture the action at the precise moment—the reason we are shooting in continuous mode.


Warning: Your subject will get wet.


Add a jumping subject to your water splash photos for even more emphasis.


No matter what equipment you use, creativity is still the key to great photos.

Since you have taken the time and gone through the trouble of setting everything up and waterproofing everything you own that’s important to you, you might as well try a wide range of shots.

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