Critique Tall & Pastel

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I got a really tall set of formations this time -- about 7 inches. That's really tall and 50% taller than my previously tallest images.

I used a background for the first time made of a pastel gradient printed on a sheet of clear acetate attached to a sheet of translucent vellum. A speedlight lit the background from behind. The other lighting was three speed lights, one above the drop formation fitted with a blue gel and two more in the left front and right front areas fitted with orange gels.

All photos are the result of two drops colliding with each other.

Photo #1
Mike 2020-05-31--004-PS.jpg
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Photo #2
Mike 2020-05-31--030-PS.jpg
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Photo #3
Mike 2020-05-31--036-PSD.jpg
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Photo #4
Mike 2020-05-31--039-PS.jpg
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Photo #5
Mike 2020-05-31--040-PS.jpg
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Photo #6
Mike 2020-05-31--049-PS.jpg
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For those of you interested in how long it takes to prepare for a drop art session and then to take everything down and clean the drop kit, I kept track of all of that now that I'm reasonably adept at making it happen.

Summary
Of the three hours required, only one hour is spent actually photographing the drop formations. I use only one bottle and valve to dispense drops. Many people use about three bottles and valves and some use six or more. The setup and cleanup time increases dramatically as more and more bottles and valves are used, yet the time spent making photos doesn't change.

Setup Time: 1 1/2 hours
This includes in order:
  1. Deciding which gels and background to use (lots and lots of gels to choose from);
  2. Putting fresh batteries in the speedlights and their remote controller as needed;
  3. Attaching the gels to the speedlights and attaching the gradient to the background;
  4. Though the drop kit is mostly assembled and remains mostly set up on a light stand, I have to connect two main parts of it to fully assemble it;
  5. Using a level to ensure the drop kit's spot is close to true vertical (otherwise, the second drop may not collide with the first drop);
  6. Covering the speedlights, the books underneath them (needed to raise the speedlights) and tabletop with cling wrap to protect them from splashing liquid;
  7. Positioning the camera;
  8. Attaching a plumbline to the drop kit's spout and focusing the camera on it;
  9. Positioning the catch basin centered on and underneath the plumbline;
  10. Configuring the speedlights directly on each unit for the group each one is in (I used four speedlights and three groups) and then remotely configuring the output and zoom value of each speedlight; and
  11. Creating the two mixtures for use in the bottle from which the drops are dispensed and in the catch basin below, and pouring the liquids into them.
Photo Session Time: 1 hour

Teardown & Cleanup Time: 1/2 hour

This includes:
  1. Removing the cling wrap from all items in the setup;
  2. Returning books, speedlights, plumbline, and the like to their proper place;
  3. Removing the liquid from the catch basin, sometimes using a turkey baster, sometimes using a syphon, depending on the basin;
  4. Removing the two main parts of the drop kit that do not remain connected to the light stand;
  5. Disassembling those two main parts including breaking down the valve into four parts, cleaning each part with hot water, drying them inside and out, and reassembling them; and
  6. Returning the cleaned parts of the drop kit to their proper place in the makeshift studio.
 
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I must've missed these, too -- they're gorgeous! I love the colors -- summery and make me think of the beach.....

Thanks for the detailed information, too, on the process from beginning to end as far as getting set up and organized and then cleaning up afterward. Whew! I seriously don't think I would have the patience for all that, but, oh, the results are so worth it!
 

Butlerkid

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Mike, I am in the middle of a long road trip - and haven't had internet (until yesterday) for about 2 weeks! Sorry I missed this thread.

The patterns are excellent! Patterns 3, 4 and 5 are my favs. Perhaps it is my eyes and/or my laptop, but the tops of these don't seem quite as sharp as your usual fine work. The stems and bottoms seem fine.....just a little fall off of sharpness at the tops. The extra height may be the cause? The pastel color combinations are OK.....I just happened to prefer some of the other color combos you have used.
 
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Thank you to Nick, Connie and Karen!

Karen: I had noticed that you weren't posting as much and was wondering if your long road trip had begun. I hope it's gotten off to a great start for you.

just a little fall off of sharpness at the tops
Thanks for noticing and especially mentioning that. That softness is due to the forward and rear portions of the tops of these formations being a bit beyond the depth of field. Even though the center areas of the tops are sharp, the overall impression is lack of sharpness. I'm still trying to settle on my approach to dealing with that. I began using f/8 and am now using f/29. I might settle on placing the camera farther away from the subject and then cropping to achieve an image that is both sharp and fills the frame, but I'm going to do that only as a matter of last resort. To a certain extent, I'm still experimenting.

The pastel color combinations are OK.....I just happened to prefer some of the other color combos you have used.
Me too! I mentioned to my wife that the colors remind me of the architectural exteriors and interiors on the island, Caye Caulker in Belize where we vacationed a few years ago. I intentionally rented an apartment that didn't have those colors. :ROFLMAO:
 
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I don't know what to say Mike. Very interesting images. I would have thought that those images were made with photoshop artificially , if I hadn't known that you were the shooter. They look too difficult to me to shoot. Congrats.
 
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