How to take awesome paint splash photos with a speaker, a garbage bag and some noise

Tips & Techniques

Paint splash photos are really fun to take, and they can certainly look amazing. If you would like to experiment with this technique, Steve Kazemir shares a very cool technique in his latest video. He takes fantastic, colorful paint splash photos with the help of a speaker, a garbage bag and some noise. Check out his video below if you want to learn how to take them, too!

You will need

  • A functional speaker with a black garbage bag stretched over it
  • An amplifier set to maximum volume
  • A tablet to generate sound, Steve used an app called Function Generator, also set to maximum volume.
  • Two speedlights set to 1/32 or less. A higher power flash lasts longer so it won’t freeze the action
  • A sound trigger – when it detects the sound, it will trigger the speedlights (not the camera)
  • Paint – dollar store acrylic paint diluted with water to achieve the consistency of milk
  • Eyedroppers

Camera settings

Set the camera on a tripod and place it so you get the composition you want. Steve used an 18-55mm lens set to 35mm, but of course, you can use whichever lens you prefer. Keep in mind that placing the camera close to the subject means that some paint might end up on it. So, if you put it very close, perhaps you could use a UV filter to protect the front lens element from getting the paint on it.

Steve set the camera to ISO 400, f/14 and 2-sec exposure. Yup, that’s two seconds – you’ll shoot in a totally dark room, and the speedlights will freeze the action.

App settings

  • As for the app settings, you might need to fiddle with it a bit until you get it right. 40Hz worked for Steve, but it depends on the speaker size, color consistency, etc., so it might be different for you.
  • Steve used six cycles of the square wave.
  • Steve suggests that you set the amplitude to somewhere between 80 % and 100 %. Experiment and find what works best for you

Taking the photo

Use eyedroppers to place paint on the garbage bag stretched over the speaker. Experiment with colors and patterns and feel free to play around. Next, arm the sound trigger and turn off all the lights. Then start the 2-sec exposure on the camera, and at the same time initiate the sound on the tablet. The sound trigger will trigger the speedlights – and the photo is taken.

Now, turn the lights on, clean up the speaker, and repeat! As I mentioned, play with colors and patterns, and experiment. Here are a few more photos Steve took using this technique:

I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and that you’ll try it out yourself. Check out Steve’s website for more of his work, and make sure to follow him on Instagram and Facebook.

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