Sunday, January 19, 2014

Gelatinous Cubes and Water Drops

I like high speed photography, but I am limited to what I can do within my studio space and with the equipment I have.  So I usually focus on dropping things, this weekend it was gelatinous cubes and colored water. 

The gelatinous cubes were a new for me, and still require refinement to the gel composition.  I bought clear Knox gelatin and made two batches.  (I did add food coloring to the mix for contrast.) The first batch was a little mushy while the second batch was firmer like a Jell-O giggler.  The softer batch worked better, providing more deformity while tumbling and a better splat upon impact.  As I dropped the cubes and sphere I hit the shutter release button.  The squishy cubes lasted for about 10 drops depending on the height of the drop.  While the very firm sphere appeared indestructible.   I may try this again, possibly throwing the cubes against a wall instead of dropping them.


Firm Sphere Impact
Squishy Cube Impact

I have worked with water drops before. When I usually do these I fill a dish with water. Then hold a plastic Ziploc bag filled with water and food coloring with a hole over the dish and hit the shutter release. This is hugely a trial and error process.  Besides my usual process, I also tried just having the water drip directly onto a hard surface, this appeared to work nicely.  I then modified my drop mixture.  I added corn starch to the water in the baggie, this thickened the mixture. However, this also reduced the translucence of the drops.  The mixture appeared to produce better patterns, so I may try this with a gelatin mixture so I can keep the translucence of straight water.

Cornstarch Mix on hard surface
Water drop into pool of water
Water on hard surface

The set up for both shoots were as follows. I placed a clear sheet down on the table to protect it. I then stood white foam board on top of the table for the background.  I connected the plastic to white foam board sides to create side walls and to two stands to create a catch basin of sorts.  I then placed my camera with flash, macro lens and shutter release trigger on a tripod angled down towards the drop surface.  I used bounce flash technique for most of the shots.

Overall this was productive time in the studio. I like the water drop results but think the gelatinous cube shots need work.  

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Panda, Panda, Panda

Red Panda
On January 18th the National Zoo will present the new little panda cub, named Bao Bao, to the public. However if you’re a FONZ (Friends of the National Zoo) you got to see the baby panda a week earlier.  So I went early this morning to see the panda.  They routed people through the top of the Asia Trail to meter the crowds and then only let groups of about 20 people into panda house for 7 minute viewing intervals.   We only had to wait about 15 minutes to see the panda. While waiting in line we enjoyed the antics of the two red pandas. 

When we finally made it into the panda house the baby panda was awake and feeding.  However, I didn’t get as nice a view or picture as I wanted.  The problem was they did not completely clear out the viewing area before letting more people in. Thus some people were not obeying the rules and leaving when their group’s session was up, basically hogging the panda.  There was one guy who just would not move, even though his group already left.   I think to improve this; the zoo personnel should have fully cleared out the viewing area then let the next group in that way it was fair to everyone.  I got maybe one nice shot of the baby panda, but never got his face.  I think I may go back after the 21st when they offer private viewing appointments to FONZ members. Then maybe I'll get to see the tiger cubs too, they were not out today or I would have had tiger cub pictures too. [Zoo Pictures]

The baby panda and her mom

I was shooting at an ISO 1600, f5.6, and 1/50s shutter speed on my 18 to 200mm lens inside the panda house.  For using an ISO of 1600 there was very little grain to the photos.  Outside the panda house I used an ISO of 400 then adjusted for light.

Trip to Acadia National Park

Stop along the Park Loop Road ISO 400, Focal Length 20mm, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/400s Last weekend my husband and I went up to Acadia N...