Sound-activated Paint / Inverted Paint walk-through...
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Old 02-09-2013   #1
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Default Sound-activated Paint / Inverted Paint walk-through...

I call it "sound-activated paint", some people call it "inverted paint". Regardless of what you call it, here's a walk-through to learn how to shoot shots like these...



Water 204 by Ed Durbin (Katodog), on Flickr


The Juggler by Ed Durbin (Katodog), on Flickr


Water 286 by Ed Durbin (Katodog), on Flickr


June 05 014 by Ed Durbin (Katodog), on Flickr




Setup for the paint drop shots is simple, and you really need is a speaker with a flat face, some plastic, and a flash. Well, of course you need your camera, and some paint, but the general idea is pretty simple, and it’s easy to accomplish with stuff that’s probably laying around the house.


Here’s a shot of the setup, and one of it “in action”...








First things first, you need a speaker, and you need some sound. The speaker has to at least have the ability to produce bass, so a subwoofer is preferred. The reason for this is because that’s where you get the paint “jumping” from, the lows in the music. I use a subwoofer from an old Creative Labs 5.1 surround system for computers. It has a flat face, so it makes it easy to get a flat platform for the paint. Basically pick your speaker, and cover the face with plastic. Any plastic will work, use a Ziploc bag, plastic window coverings, whatever. I’m using plastic from window coverings, you know, the kind that you put on your windows in the winter, and I just double-sided tape it to the speaker.

Put your camera on a tripod and set the lens to manual focus. Put something on top of the speaker where you’re going to place the paint and focus on that. Camera settings are personal preference but use full Manual control, mine are usually 1/250 exposure, and around f/8 to get a good field of focus. ISO settings are determined by how your flash power settings are, I’m usually between ISO200-ISO800, and the flash is set to 1/62-1/128 power. Main reasons for lower flash power is one you don’t need full power, and two it gives you much faster cycle rates, so you can shoot more shots in a row before the flash has to charge up. You also want to snoot the flash so the light is directed towards the paint, you won’t want any light spill-over onto your background.

Set the camera to burst mode, and using a remote shutter is preference, sometimes I use it but most of the time I don’t. The speaker I use has a volume control so I can stand next to the camera and shoot while adjusting the volume, and music is provided via my Zune mp3 player. If you use a simple speaker setup you probably won’t get enough volume out of the typical mp3 player like an iPod, Zune, etc.. You want to try and use a speaker that has it’s own volume control so you can jack it up high enough to get the paint to “jump” how you want it to.


That seems to be about it. It’s a simple thing to do, easy to setup, easy to shoot. As long as you have a speaker with a flat face, good “bumpy” music, and a flash you’re all set. You can light the setup with regular lamps, but you want the light to be intense enough to keep shutter speeds around 1/200-1/250 or you’ll start to get “fireworks” effects; where the paint starts to get blurry streams to it. Which, to be honest, is a cool effect, but I still prefer to use flash when shooting the slower shutter speeds so the paint get lit the way I want.


Additional info: The different types of paint I use are...








I'm also using Crayola Washable kids paint. these come in a ten-pack, and there's a lot of good colors. Sadly for me my daughter used most of these paints before I snagged them, but they're pretty cheap, at Hobby Lobby they were $7.


There's a bunch of different stuff you can use I'm sure. I prefer to use washable kids paint because I figure if it's good enough for kids it must be pretty washable, so I don't have to worry about blasting it all over the floor and walls. So far I haven't gotten much anywhere but on top of the little bookshelf I use as a work surface, but the few drops that get on the floor clean up pretty good. Once I had to actually use a cleaner, like Resolve, but otherwise the washable stuff cleans up pretty easily. The window paints are harder to clean when they get on the carpet, but anywhere else, like a tabletop or the walls, this stuff pretty much peels off.

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Old 02-09-2013   #2
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Default Re: Sound-activated Paint / Inverted Paint walk-through...

Very nice tutorial! I'm going to have to go find a speaker....

Thanks for giving me something new to play with on a boring, cold, Saturday!
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Old 02-09-2013   #3
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Default Re: Sound-activated Paint / Inverted Paint walk-through...

Oops, posting mistake...
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Old 02-10-2013   #4
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Default Re: Sound-activated Paint / Inverted Paint walk-through...

At first I thought you were using the water drop method but using paint in place of water and using a sound activated device to trigger the flash. Boy was I surprised. Nice work, I'll be giving this a try myself soon.

Paul
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Old 02-10-2013   #5
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Default Re: Sound-activated Paint / Inverted Paint walk-through...

Nope, I do stuff with a bare minimum of gear. Cheap eBay triggers, and I press the shutter while the music bumps. No fancy sound or laser triggers, just burst mode. I'd love to have some sound and laser triggers, but can't do it on my type of budget though.
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Old 02-10-2013   #6
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Default Re: Sound-activated Paint / Inverted Paint walk-through...

Very interesting!..thanks for posting!
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Old 02-10-2013   #7
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Default Re: Sound-activated Paint / Inverted Paint walk-through...

Thanks for commenting.


It's fun, that's for sure. Problem is that once you start doing it the music gets into you, and you wind up listening to music and dancing around like a ding-dong half the day...then songs get stuck in your head for a week or two, then you shoot more and it starts all over again.
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Old 02-10-2013   #8
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Default Re: Sound-activated Paint / Inverted Paint walk-through...

Thanks for your walk through. You are a genius, sir, and will definitely be trying this. How does the title of "Sir Paints-a-lot" sound?
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Old 02-10-2013   #9
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Default Re: Sound-activated Paint / Inverted Paint walk-through...

Sounds good to me, although I hate to be tagged as "that paint guy"...nah, I don't care, titles are titles. On other forums I have the title "Supreme Grandmaster"...sadly that's due to my martial arts and not my photography skills...
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Old 02-10-2013   #10
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Default Re: Sound-activated Paint / Inverted Paint walk-through...

I also use budget triggers, with my speedlights and overall they work very well.
As far as a sound trigger system goes if you have a smart phone you can get a free app from Trigger Trap and then you buy a dongle cord for about 30 bucks and together they work as a sound trigger and has many other functions built in too.

Paul


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