Sliding Table

To make a good photo of a glass with water flying out of it on a table, you can make a “Sliding Table.”


Sliding Table

The table is basically a square that slides then stops abruptly.



To make one you can just get some cheap pine at the big orange building and cut them into rails and sides.
Get a peace of plywood and glass for the table.



To make it slide best you can wipe some paste wax on the rails…



You don’t need that much running space for the splashes, the faster the table travels, the more likely the glass will fly off.




To make the table slide by itself predictably you can use a pulley and a weight



You can use some kind of bucket. The weight can be changed to change the speed and power of the slide.



You can use something like this to keep the table “loaded for bear,” and release it when your ready.
This can help with repeatably.



You can use a sound trigger for the flashes, or a relay like this. Use the usual techniques for high-speed flash photography.


Sliding Table

Align the end of the run with your background…


Sliding Table

and camera and flashes,


Sliding Table

To set this kind of “Rube Goldberg machine” up your gonna want to get everything ready before you set it in motion.
A lot of things can go wrong, so have everything worked out before you “initiate an incident.”

Get all your flashes set up, slide the table to the end and compose your photo accordingly. You will want more space above the glass if your planing on making a big splash, or you may end up having to edit a top on it, like in this photo.



Test your flashes to see how your subject and the background is getting lit…
Here the light above the background is not wide enough.



This is better, but the background is still not getting enough light



This is much more even, except for the top,



Now the top is better…



OK, we aren’t really getting anywhere here.
Options? Higher ISO, lower aperture. stronger flash or a mixture of both.
Shooting RAW and raising the exposure afterwords can also help. But as always getting it closer in camera will give you a better result.





When something is this close, and there are fluids flying in three dimensions, you don’t want a small aperture, or stuff may not be in focus. You could use a zoom, like the 70-200 farther away at a lower aperture, I suppose, but I got a small studio, so that’s a no-go…

Your ISO comfort range probably depends on your camera. I like staying under 1600 ISO, I prefer 400, but here I settled for 800

Your flash power is what is going to freeze the action. At full power the flash will be on for around 1/300th of a second. Tons of light, but the fluid splash will be moving a bit in that time, and will probably give you some blur. I usually set 4 flashes to their lowest power of 1/128th power. Here I am using 2 bounce diffuses which softens the light, but also lowers the amount of light getting to the subject. You can also just move the flashes closer, but then you have to zoom them out more, negating a lot of the point for that, plus you only want to get so close to the “projectile sled.”

I settled on raising the flash power to 1/64, which is still a pretty quick exposure… Lightroom and Photoshop will get us the rest of the way.


Here I’m testing the sled by sliding the table 1″  setting off the flashes so I can check out the exposure.



Here is why you can never get enough of the surrounding area… I need a bigger water-proof background.



I pulled the table back 2/3rds the way of the last shot to get this one.



Here is what inevitably happens, or the glue gives up and the glass goes flying…
Clean up in isle 3!


Good luck… Let me know if I’ve forgotten anything.