How to Photograph Pouring Liquid


Photographing pouring liquids can be done by using normal lighting or flash, the principle is exactly the same.

A cheap halogen inspection light can be shined through some tracing paper hanging between the subject and the lamp, the light should be pointing directly at the camera lens, softened by the tracing paper, this is called backlighting and uses only one lamp.

Carefull adjustment of the distance between the lamp and the tracing paper will enable a halo to appear or not as required.

Great care must be taken as this type of light as opposed to flash can get very hot , so don’t set the lamp too near the tracing paper as there may be a fire risk.

The aim is to arrive at an exposure of around 1200th of a second, achieved by increasing the ISO rate on the camera and using a f stop of around f4. This can only be arrived at by experimentation , to arrive at the shutter speed required to stop movement, while using a low as possible ISO and an f stop setting that will give enough depth of field for the particular image.

The white balance must be set to the type of light being used, This can be done by using the tracing paper as if it is a white card, refer to my lesson called “white balance”

By using this very short exposure all motion will be stopped , this technique is know as high speed photography .

It is important to choose the right shaped glass for the effect required, a long thin glass will cause a totally different effect to a rounded one, so a lot of experimentation may be required. The shape of the pour will vary as well depending on the type of system used, bottle , jug etc.

It’s sometimes nice as an alternative to color the liquid with food dye for some interesting effects.

Happy shooting.


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