Ready, Set, Freeze

I can’t help but be draw to anything behind the scenes. I unwittingly gravitate toward promises of insider information and exclusive access.

That may be why I was so excited when Carrie Garcia and Elizabeth Fleener, Sport Diver‘s photo editor and art director, respectively, asked if I wanted to help in the photo studio. I couldn’t wait to see the process behind the glossy front-of-book photo.

On this day, we were shooting gear for Sport Diver‘s August issue. Carrie and Elizabeth had enlisted the help of Jon Whittle to get a perfect freeze frame of water splashing against a dive computer.

Here’s the scoop–



First, we set up the equipment, which included saran wrapping some of the photo gear to keep it safe from misaimed water drops. Above, Carrie adjusts the bar so the dive computer hangs optimally in the splash zone.


The external flashes were connected to a motion sensor, so the lights flashed as we poured the water. In the photo, Jon does a test run to make sure everything is in working order.

All set up and ready to go, we turned off the lights and began the shoot.

In order to freeze the moving water and get the clear, crisp shot you’ll see in the magazine, we needed a hyper fast shutter speed. Jon suggested using the fastest shutter speed possible. You can’t get any faster than the speed of light, he said.

So, the flash acted as our shutter speed. We turned off the lights. We tossed the cup of water at the computer console. This activated the motion sensor, which fired off the flash, which captured the image.

And then we filled the paper cup, and repeated the process.

We spent the afternoon making tiny adjustments and coming up with more effective ways to douse the console. In the photo above, you  can see the paper towel roll we switched to in order to more accurately aim the water spill.

By the time we were finished with the photo shoot, we could have played a decent game of Slip ‘N Slide on the photo studio floor.

Instead, we disassembled the setup and began the cleanup. Shown above: Elizabeth and Carrie untying the computer and unclamping the flashes.

 When a mop wasn’t available, we had to get creative with the cleanup.

A few paper towels though, and one effective fan later, the studio was as good as new.

Check out the August issue of Sport Diver to see how the shoot turned out.


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