How to shoot water splash product photography using a DIY catapult

Tips & Techniques

Water splashes often seem to go hand in hand with product photography, although it’s not always easy to capture. Often it requires several pairs of hands to man the camera while simultaneously throwing water at your subject. But it’s possible to shoot it on your own quite easily using a DIY catapult, built from mostly standard gear you already have in your studio.

You’ll need a few bits of wood, screws, a bungee cord and a length of rope as well, but as this video from Matt Huber demonstrates, it’s a really simple design that’s easy to build. But the results it allows you to produce are very effective.

The whole system is basically just a piece of wood which pivots around a standard grip clamp on a C Stand. A bungee cord is attached to one end to create the tension and spring the container fastened to the other end forward. A length of regular non-stretchy rope is attached to the other end to ensure that it always stops at the same place.

While it might seem overkill compared to just having an assistant to throw water on your subject, the key factor with this device is that it allows you to get consistency. As long as you pull it back far enough each time and put the same amount of water in each time, you can get a similar look time after time. It also means that you can vary just one variable at a time in order to change the effect, too.

But this isn’t where the build ends. Oh, no. Matt also connects a button to the catapult to trigger a Pocket Wizard in delay mode which fires the camera. This, too, adds to the consistency, as your timing will be exactly the same from one shot to the next, ensuring that you always get the same level of splash. And, again, it lets you tweak the timing to capture it exactly where you want it.

It’s a really simple device to construct, but if you’re doing a lot of products that require water splashes, it can make your life go much more smoothly – and consistently.

[via ISO1200]

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