Pretty sweet huh? Well, at the end of this post, you'll learn how to make a similar animation yourself! (If the animation is "stuttering," you may be on a slow connection - just continue reading and there's another one at the bottom that will certainly be fully loaded by the time you reach it).
As I alluded to in my A New Lens Review, a New Cover Photo post a few weeks back, I moonlight as an in-depth gear reviewer for a photography website/forum. Part of that role has been a personal goal to make an eye-catching cover photo for each review. And for this lens review, I had a goal of highlighting and emphasizing one of its most unique selling points - the only weather sealed "all-in-one zoom kit lens" on the market, a forte (weather sealing) of Pentax's and where it's arguably the market leader. This is undeniably so when it comes to offering weather sealed options in kit lenses and consumer lenses, including in starter camera+lens bundles right off the shelf, as this lens is often a part of. But let's back to what you came for - how this shot was made.
For this specific animation, it's a compilation of 52 images, however don't let that measly number fool you. It took about 4 hours (and well over a total of 200 images) to get to those "52." The reason for that was trying to get the best composition, and then once that was settled, it was combining the water spray from a hose with the off-camera flash (this was taken several months ago and was my first real foray into the world of OCF madness) to try to achieve a look I was satisfied with.
Regarding the composition, I came up with the idea of placing the camera on a pile of rocks from an image I had recently seen where someone did that with a diver's watch (and shot in their bathtub). Because there weren't that many rocks of a considerable size around my house, that took me about 30 min alone to find a bucket's worth to make a small pile. Then the elaborate game of Tetris trying to align the rocks properly without covering any part of the camera. This was a bigger issue with rocks placed in front of the camera than behind it.
Without further adieu, I present the evolution of by trial and (many) errors, replete with inner monologue during the process: Click for a larger view.
Nope, not a fan...
Ooh, this *might* work...
Now let's make it rain...
Let's try a different nozzle on the garden hose...
Better, but still not liking it.
Oh what if we try making the angle/positioning of the camera more aggressive...?
Nope, doesn't look too good - too left justified with a lot of empty space on the right of the camera.
Let's shift to the right but add the lens hood...?
Now let's add some flash to the front to lift the shadows a bit...
Too bright, but more importantly I am not liking the empty "chasm" between the lens hood and the lens/camera.
Let's rearrange the rocks a bit...
Ooh, much better. And then let's try some different water modes...
Again, overboard on the "rain."
But what happens if we add a light 90 degrees from the right side?
Dammit, Alex - stop playing with the water. The bigger issue is the lighting of the subject itself. Focus on that...
Let's knock back the power on that flash and try again...
Now let's see what lighting the "rain" from behind does...
Voila! Rinse and repeat (no pun intended):
/end inner monologue
That shows the 52 images that made it into the .gif above. But in reality there were about 75 images of this set, and I picked the closest aligned images so the .gif didn't "shake" as much. I wasn't using a remote (I wish I did), so manually pressing the shutter speed wasn't optimal and actually accounted for minute differences that made it impossible to have perfect alignment. If I were doing this professionally and been commissioned for an animation like this (say for the launch of a camera/lens - you there Pentax? send me some stuff to help you market it! ), I wouldn't have been so lenient with my standards. But like I said, I had already spent about 4 hours on this project, and my sister, who was holding the hose, had had enough lol.
The alignment happened in Photoshop Elements, where I made all of them layers in the same project (that alone took forever), and then lined them up as best I could. Then, after saving all of them as individual .jpg images (PSE elements has a feature to create a .gif from layers, but it has a size cap and didn't allow me to do it, hence the need to undo the layering and save all as individual images), I found a .gif maker online that doesn't superimpose a watermark (my default is Free Online Animated GIF Maker but it maxes at 30 images) and it spit it out for me.
Here is the BTS shot with the lighting and how everything was setup (let's be honest - are these not the coolest and most telling images? I love BTS shots):
A quick note on camera settings: I wanted the lush green background to come through, so that was a priority of mine. As it was pretty late in the day (about an hour before sunset by the time I was satisfied with the composition and setup), the shutter speed of 1/90s (much slower than the camera sync speed) and an ISO of 800 were used.
Additionally, I wanted the focus to be on the name of the lens (as this was a review of the lens), hence the shallow depth of field and aperture choice of f/2.8, which was wide open for this lens. Being a macro lens, it's inherently extremely sharp, so that made shooting at such an aperture possible.
If you would like to read the review I published of this heavily soaked lens, you can find it here. If you'd like to see all the professional in-depth gear reviews I've published, you can find them on my website here.
- Pentax K-5 IIs on Tripod
- Adobe Lightroom 4.4
Thanks for reading, and if you want to make sure you don't miss another post like this, I encourage you to visit and like my Facebook page as I will post all my blog updates there: Alex Jansen Photography on Facebook.
Additionally, as a "Sneak Peak" so you know what you'll be missing if you don't like my Facebook page, here is the other cover photo (and what I would consider my most exciting one) for another recently published review that I will be completing a similar BTS blog post for:
For the Sigma 18-35 F1.8 DC HSM "Art" lens: