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November 2012

Taking the Waters


More composites this week!  This was my most composite intensive piece so far despite the simple composition.  This one was inspired by a recent visit to the spa – I love water and hot soaks.  It goes well with one of my mottos in life – “When in doubt, take a bath.”

I had been flipping through my Pinterest board of photo inspiration and saw some beautiful examples of underwater photography.  A few months ago this image was making waves through my social media and I absolutely adore everything about it.  If anyone knows who is the artist or what the provenance of this image is, please let me know!  I have no information about it.  Anyway, for any pursuit whether it be photography, cooking, travel, snowboarding – anything that can be a hobby passionately pursued, there comes the moment when you start thinking “If only I had a boatload of money.  Then I could buy this-and-such thing that would totally take me to the next level.”  I was having this sort of thought moment in wish I might have endless amounts of money to buy or rent equipment and props and settings and feeling rather down about what I didn’t have.  The old adage about being thankful rather instead for what one does have applies in this case – having less is a good motivator for creativity.

To do underwater photography two things really come in handy.  One is a black walled pool, and second would be all that underwater gear which is pretty darned expensive.  I have neither of those things.  I was playing around with shooting through a container of water to get some bubbles and distortion, but that was going nowhere.  To me myself feel a bit better, I thought that I could at the very least get the LOOK of shooting underwater.  And then I couldn’t resist adding an implausible element, like a splash of water.

There are a LOT of advantages to having your own place.  No one complains when you start transforming your bathroom into a photography set at 9 pm at night.  This is a stitched panorama of what my setup looked like:


Occasionally I also think about how I might not be the smartest person out there.  Strobe equipment, camera, and water?  I might not be trying something like this again really soon, and I’m glad I didn’t end up destroying my equipment or electrocuting myself!  Ignoring the strange angles of the panorama, I had my camera there on the right side on a tripod, facing the wall and tub.  I taped up black fabric for my backdrop and I was perched on the chair.  For some of the photos I was balanced on that black box you see under the trailing cord of the strobe to get enough height, but as it’s not waterproof I switched to just the chair when the water was around.

It turns out to be very hard to maintain good control of one’s body (all the while trying to use a remote control) while crouching in such a situation.  I took a ton of shots while flinging around a skirt and a length of teal chiffon I had wrapped around me, and ended up using two of them to create the bottom portion of my body.


It turns out to be INCREDIBLY hard to maintain any kind of calm facial expression when you are repeatedly dumping bowls of water over your head.  At this point I put the remote control away because I didn’t want to get wet, and I had the camera on a 10 second timer, so the routine went something like:

1. get a bowl of warmish water
2. gather up soggy skirts in one hand
3. turn off light
4. start 10 second self timer on the camera
5. clamber gingerly while trying not to slip on a wet bathroom floor to the chair in the tub
6. pose and then pour water over my head and try  not look too shocked each time the water hit my head
7. dry hands with towel laid by the tub
8. lather, rinse, repeat

It was the worst the first bowl because I forgot to make the water at least kind of warm.

Anyhow, from there, I added in my upper body and left arm (separate shot, that’s the arm I was using to pour said bowls of water), and layered in additional splash around my body, and then the pour of water from the top.

I am definitely thinking an assistant would be called for next time.  That would make this whole thing much easier!

In the end I had more layers that I’d ever had before, especially with the many curves/lighting adjustments I was making along the way.  You can see a bit of what that looked like when I was getting close to the final image.

After that was a few more lighting adjustments to make everything match.

I seem to be halfway to creating a series involving waving long lengths of fabric in a particular color.  Red, blue, and I had a white one in there somewhere.  (Yes.  The fabric store was having a sale and I had stocked up on potential prop pieces.  I find long lengths of chiffon incredibly useful.)  Anyone have any suggestions on what color to tackle next? :)


Until next time!


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