Alex Koloskov: “The Magic of Light In Still Life Photography” | Talks at Google

MALE SPEAKER: Welcome to
Authors at Google talk. So today we’re pleased to
host Alex Koloskov, who is an expert in product and
high speed flash photography and also creator of,
which is an online photography school. So today Alex will talk to
us about the magic of light and will actually do
a live photo shoot demo for us of the high
speed flash photography. So please join me
in welcoming Alex. [APPLAUSE] ALEX KOLOSKOV: Thank you. Thank you, Kyrill. Thank you, everyone, and hello. Thank you for coming to see me,
to see what we’re going to do. Well, photography is
a big part of my life. And actually, Google has its own
part in my heart, I would say, because it’s a special
company, I think, and I have some very kind of
professional, personal things to remember about Google. And for me it’s a big thing
to talk to you right now. I’m a little bit nervous. But it should be
OK once we start shooting because this
is what I do and love, and I forgot about everything. So first, let me just show
you a little movie just a show how I love and what kind
of photography I do, how I love it. And it’s all about,
actually, the help with the shoot about Google. I don’t know– did you see
or not behind the scene of making this shot? Who’s seen it? Only a few. OK, cool. This is what I called– we did
it for the first anniversary of Google+. Again, that was I think a
very cool thing, Google+. Well, it is, but it has
changed a little bit. Anyway, this is what we
did for first anniversary. We made Google. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] [MUSIC PLAYING] [END PLAYBACK] ALEX KOLOSKOV: So as you see,
that was several years ago. That time we had studio inside
the basement of our house. And it was nothing fancy, I
mean in terms of equipment, but to see what
kind of cool things you can do even at home when
you are passionate about it. Right now we have studio here. It’s all much nicer. But this is not what really
a passionate photographer needs to do something
interesting and something cool. So let me ask you about this. Properly you have all
have cameras, right? SLR, DSLR– you don’t
even need to raise hands. You probably have it all. What kind of
photography do you like? Please raise your hand if you
really enjoy doing landscaping. Awesome. Probably more than 50%. What about people photography,
fashion and everything? Do you do it outside or inside? What about studio? How many shoot
people in the studio? How many of you shoot
still life in studio? OK, two– awesome. So it’s very different. Every type of photography
is very different. And of course, we can
talk about this a lot, but I will try to do various
simple kind of division. Let’s say for
landscape photography, you need to be in the right
place in the right time with the right gear, right? And then you have a good
chance to take something nice. If you miss one of
those things, well, it’s either too late, too early, or
there is no sky or whatever, and then you do it next time. This is for landscaping. When you shoot people, when
you shoot models and anything, if it’s outside, same
conditions, right? If it’s inside of the studio,
meaning that you have much more control. You control your light. You control your background. You control environment. The only thing that you
don’t control is your model. You can influence. You can kind of communicate. But basically, if, let’s say
you need some emotion out of her or him and for some
reason it’s not coming out, what do you need to do? I mean, you kind of might
be stuck over there. When I get my first camera,
I started from landscaping. Then it was people outside. Then it was inside. And I just found
that it’s not really working well for me if I
have some kind of limitation, so I was looking for
photography without any external limitations. And this is where still
life photography is. You control everything–
literally everything– camera, lighting, subject. Nobody will complain. He’s not going to
complain if it takes me five hours to shoot him. He’ll be fine. And in terms of impact
from your photography, for example, with
people photography, in studio, let’s say–
this is one picture, and this is another picture,
same light and setup, all the same except one
thing– the emotion, right? Different emotion makes a
completely different picture in terms of how it impacts us. But what you can do if you need
to shoot a still-life subject? Emotionless, basically, and
you need to somehow reach to the viewer,
make it remarkable, make people to remember
you, your photography. And the only thing that you need
to do is to work with light. That’s why I call
it magic of light. Because in still
life photography, we only work with light. And I’m going to demonstrate
it to you in a few minutes from the beginning. It’s another, actually,
example of people photography, just something
really beautifully. You don’t need much
emotions, right? Eyes, for example, attracts
attention and boom. You have eyes in the image,
people will look at it and probably remember. But if you shoot something
like this, just a bottle, and it should be pretty
kind of plain shot, you’re not going to prop it
with anything else, maybe a little bit, all
what you see is a light, the reflection or
refraction of the light. So it’s very technical type of
photography, very technical. Well, my background
is bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering,
long, long time ago. And then I was for 10 years a
programmer at one US companies. So I’m an IT guy. And this is probably
one of the reasons why I really enjoy studio
still life photography, because it’s engineering. You’re not going to
work with emotions. It’s all very technical. So when you shoot simple
subjects, simple things, to make an impact you
need to work with light. Just some examples–
you probably know one of these things, right? Google Glass–
beautiful and simple thing– how to make
something nice from it? Light. It’s all actually very
little Photoshop here. Even that little sparkles,
it’s all done in studio. You can do everything in light. Or like the jewelry, again,
this is basically as-is shot. We just clean it, and
it’s not a composite shot. It’s call Diamond Drop. Some telling story
can be happening with product photography if
you make a story with it. For example, this very simple
shot– one light source and we didn’t use Photoshop. Well, we used Photoshop to
change the ground color. That’s it. Imagine how to shoot things
like this just with one click. Yeah, it was not blue
but a gray background. Again, engineering the
light, very cool things. Motion– one of the things
that I really enjoy to do is stop motion photography. That’s something, again, that
makes an impact on the viewer. Especially in
commercial photography, that’s what they’re
looking for when they’re looking for a
photographer, somebody who can make images that
really make an impact. This is one of
the things, again, you can do motion and stop it. Another shot. All of the shots,
by the way, wasn’t done for commercial clients. We did it for
lessons for Photigy, for the online school that
we have, probably only one in the world that really is
dedicated to studio still life photography. Everything we do,
it’s all there. This vase, for example,
it’s like painting. So it’s a shot of the
vase with strobe light. Within the same
click, with one click, we added light painting–
pure technical stuff. Magic, but it’s all
about understanding how light works and camera works. This is one click. Again, in Photoshop we
colored stems green. We made it in Photoshop. The rest was just
out of the camera. About camera, iPhone
versus Hasselblad– who will guess where iPhone
shot, where is Hasselblad? And how? Actually, this on the
right is a Hasselblad. On the left it’s iPhone. You can only tell because
iPhone has a wide angle lens. On the Hasselblad, I used
probably 120 millimeters. IPhone it’s like
30 or so, right? And again, that’s another proof
that it’s all about lighting, not about the camera. Here it is. It’s iPhone shot behind
this [INAUDIBLE]– simple. Yes, it’s a special program. It’s not built in
iPhone program, but the program
let me to control shutter speed and aperture,
but nothing fancy. OK, this is Photigy. This is where all is behind
the scenes happening. And the Show Time– cool. We got in 15 minutes. This is how I look like when
I do splash photographer. So we’re going and do some
product photography here and some special
photography as well. I hope you’re going to wear
some protective clothes. I brought paint,
and you’ll be OK if I’ll be throwing
it to you, no? OK, kidding. It’s only water, but it
will be really stop motion. So let’s do this. Colors are mostly done in
Photoshop, even with the paint. For example, for
Google, we tried to use paint that were the
correct colors, of course, but to match it really
to the Google logo, we did Photoshop
correction of the color. It’s really easy. And of course, lots of
manipulation, as you’ve seen. OK, so you shouldn’t
see anything. You didn’t see anything. OK, product photography. Let’s start from something
very, very simple. I brought some light. I brought a camera. And I have this little
Plexiglas piece. And actually, this is the
present from Cliff from Google, which will work awesome for us. This is basically how you
do the simplest people photography in the studio. You have your model,
and you have a light. And then you can put
something here, [INAUDIBLE], maybe some books, maybe nothing. So let’s do a shot. Let’s try. Manual focus, by
the way, if anyone is really interested in this. Of course, the tripod is
not the real tripod, OK? This is not what
I use in studio. And we do a shot. So what do we have here? Let me do a little crop so
you see a little bit better. OK, so when you see the subject,
you can recognize it, right? You know that it’s this
little android drone. OK, so if you had,
for example, a little reflector from other side. It looks pretty nice. It’s little bit overexposed–
OK, a little bit overexposed. But you understand
that this is not going to change much
if we adjust the light. It still will be
the same subject. If it will be my face there,
you recognize that, hey, Alex Koloskov is here. So if you want to impress
somebody with your still life skill, I can shoot some product
or any still life, please start– or not please. It’s kind advice, OK? Start from that subject. Because this guy, it
diffuses reflected light. It’s matte. That’s what we call this. This surface is matte, OK? And if we replace it with
something really recognizable– I’m sure most of you, well,
all of you know what is is. This is a bottle of wine. You’re going to put
it on the same place, maybe a little bit–
no, it’s all good. And we do a shot. I didn’t change anything. What is going on? AUDIENCE: We get to see
the shape of your lens. ALEX KOLOSKOV:
Where’s the subject? Where it is? If not the top of the
bottle, you probably wouldn’t really know that
this is the wine, right? There is something. That’s it. You see, I increased light
almost one stop, two times brighter. It didn’t help, except
the top of the bottle, because the only part which is
matte is on top of the bottle, right? So making light brighter
doesn’t work here, simply because it’s
glossy, glossy subject. It reflects everything. It reflects our light. It’s like a mirror,
right, but not flat. Tell me– when you stand
in front of the mirror and you don’t see yourself
well, what do you do? You put lots of
lights on the mirror? No, you light yourself. So here is the same thing. You cannot really
highlight the subject. You cannot put lots of
light and see something. You can only reflect
something in it. Let’s see what we can reflect. Diffusers, right? You know diffusers probably. This is basically
semi-transparent, translucent anything. This is plastic, for example. So let’s do something
very simple. Boom, we start seeing
something, right? We start seeing the shape of the
subject, little bit, not much. Make it a little bit brighter. So it’s more like a
bottle now, right? But still not really a bottle. If you don’t know that bottle–
you don’t see the shape, you don’t see that it’s
really cylindrical. And now, as any
studio photographer, I’m going to shape the light. I am going to create the shape
of this bottle on a diffuser so it will be just reflected. So see what I will do. Just to be doing this. OK, I turn it off for a moment. I’m connecting other light, a
little bit more serious light [INAUDIBLE]. But the idea is the same. And you probably already know
what I’m going to use, right? Softbox, or in this case
it’s called strip box because it’s narrow. But basically it’s softbox. Everyone knows
what’s inside, right? No? So it’s a diffuser. You mount light on
this side, right? This is special ring for special
type of lighting, [INAUDIBLE] color, for example. And inside, you have this, OK? It’s a glossy box covered
with kind of foil. It has some diffuser inside and
one more diffuser on this edge. So the whole idea of all this
is to produce uniform feeling of this surface. That’s it. And when we mount in a light,
OK, let’s see what will happen. I have a trigger. That’s a very handy thing. OK, now we kind of start
seeing more, right? It’s more like a bottle. But still, the shape of the
bottle is not really visible. We can guess what kind
of shape of this bottle is simply because we have
a one to one– of course, size has changed because
it’s not a flat mirror, but we have reflection
from this guy, from our diffuser [INAUDIBLE]. Three [INAUDIBLE]. Let’s see if I will
add just the larger. This is the same
thing, larger softbox. What will happen? [CAMERA CLICKS] OK, we see more of
the bottle, much more. Now, what’s the difference
between this and this besides the shape of the light? How do you know if your
subject is glossy or not on the picture? How do you know? Does this look glossy? I can actually crop
it a little bit so you see a little bit less. And this actually is a
little bit fallen inside, but not a problem. So for me it
doesn’t look glossy. This looks glossy. The previous shot is
not looking glossy. However, glossy, because it
reflects something bright, we know it, but it
does not change shape. So we need to show the
shape of the bottle. It’s cylindrical. Do you know when
you’re drawing things how to make from a circle
to make a sphere, right? You’re creating shadow, maybe. You’re creating some highlights. Basically it’s a
gradient, right? If it’s a flat paper,
you’re creating a gradient. And for us, it looks like, hey,
there is some 3D coming, right? If takes them and
creates a shape. So I’m going to create
a gradient over here, because I cannot
do it here, right? For example, when it’s matte–
remember our little guy?– we have a gradient, like here. We have bright and darker areas. We see that it’s a
cylinder, basically. It was not a problem,
but on the glossy stuff, you don’t see that
it’s cylindrical. You cannot see it. So you need to create it here. This is what I’m going to do. I’m going to create a gradient. How do we do it? If I touch diffuser with one
side of the light on the strip box, it will be brighter. It will be sharp cut off
to the brighter area, and then it will be
gradually, the brightness will follow majorly, right? So let me do this. You see how it tuned
the light a little bit? And I do the shot. [CAMERA CLICKS] OK, we can do it
even more like this. [CAMERA CLICKS] OK, gradient– this is
where it comes to the life. Depends on how good you are. When we create a
gradient, we start seeing that, hey, that’s
how gradient looked like. It’s like half of the shape,
but it’s tough, right? It’s like same as you
would paint this bottle. Now we just need to add
another side, right? Kyrill, can you help me? I’m going to ask
assistant for this shot. Kyrill, help me
to– this is just a piece of form core board. So white reflector,
not even diffuser. And Kyrill is going to
hold it from other side. Make it vertical and closer. Awesome. [CAMERA CLICKS] Far away, a little bit farther. [CAMERA CLICKS] [LAUGHTER] OK, actually, the previous
shot is completely fine, because you’re going to crop it. It’s easy to crop, right? And he didn’t touch the
subject, so it’s fine. But you see what’s happening. We start seeing the bottle, OK? It turns really
kind of simple shot. Thank you. Thank you, Kyrill. Just showing you the approach
of how we shoot still life. We examine the subject. This is a simple
one, very simple. And I didn’t finish, because
if you’re going to finish, we may miss some other stuff. Because, for example,
the bottom of the bottle, what makes the reflection? Do you know? Now, the bottom, you
see it’s not coming, the reflection, from our
reflectors, diffusers. It’s not coming all the way
to the bottom of the bottle. Exactly– the table. So the whole process of
still life photography is understanding where
the light or where the reflection is coming from. So we just need to understand. I see so many times when
people are struggling to get, for example, edge reflection
on something like this, where to put light/
They put in light, and it’s not on the edge. Again, the whole idea is to
understand what do you see, where your light is
reflecting, and where to move your light, maybe,
to get edge reflection. For example, where
now in the shape should the light for
the edge reflection be if you want to have
tiny edge on this? AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]? ALEX KOLOSKOV: Top? No, no, if edge on the side. On top, it will be like this. Let’s play. I really love to play with
light, holding it like this. So on top, what did you get? Of course, this surface
reflects something on top, nothing behind. And we start moving in behind. This is where it’s
hitting the camera, so we need to move it
away from the comma. This is where this edge
reflection is coming from. And you see I can
even shoot like this. It will be still edge
reflection because of the angle. It’s a lot of reflection. Where is it? Simple– we just need
to understand how, based on the shape of the
subject, where it’s reflecting and what it’s reflecting. So this is why I love studio
still life photography. I can spend hours to
shoot complex subject. This is a simple one. When it has mix of glossy
, glass, transparent stuff, matte, the way that you
highlight it is– it’s like, I don’t know, like a maze. I mean, you can do a
lot and learn a lot, while shooting this,
about the light. One more thing
just to test you– how I fix this
reflection at the bottom, how to make reflection
to go all the way to the bottom of the bottle? AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]? ALEX KOLOSKOV: Say again? AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]? ALEX KOLOSKOV: One thing,
correct– so table, because reflection from
the table is what we see. Another thing, if you
still want to– well, it’s probably really the same. What I do this
instead of moving, I can move the
camera lower, right? You understand when we’re
shooting something cylindrical a little bit from
the top, it reflects at some point the table. If I move it almost like from
the bottom a little bit– probably a little bit more–
you won’t see the table at some angle, of course. [CAMERA CLICKS] OK, so almost to the bottom. Just again, just
one of the examples of how to deal with
all those reflections. Let’s try to finish the shot. What we can do is this. We can put the background light. You know it when you
work with models. It’s also one of
the coolest thing is to separate your subject
from the background. And if subject is dark
and background is dark, the only way to separate
it beside creating the edge reflection, right,
the ring light, is to just make a spot
on the background. So let’s try to do this. Let’s see how do you work. [CAMERA CLICKS] OK, again, cropping it, then
making a nice reflection. Let’s see what will come. [CAMERA CLICKS] OK, a little bit closer. You see what I’m doing? If I want to remove the gap
on top of the bottle– well, I’m probably getting
too technical. Don’t you think? No? [CAMERA CLICKS] [CHUCKLES] Didn’t get it yet. More. [CAMERA CLICKS] OK, almost. [CAMERA CLICKS] It looks my tripod– this is
my new tripod for travel– not made for Hasselblad,
and it’s kind of floating. So let’s finalize the shot. Please be my holder for the
reflector one more time. And now I rotated
bottle more to– I mean I rotated the
label, showing the label. And let’s do a shot. OK. [CAMERA CLICKS] Kyrill, a little bit further. It’s little bit too much light. [CAMERA CLICKS] OK, so with two
lights probably is the best way to shoot bottle. Of course, I would need
probably a third light to make a little bit better
reflection for the label. But we’re going to stop on this. Now I’ll show you a little
bit of splash photography, OK? We’re going to make– I’m
going to put the glass. Because it’s similar shape,
right, to the bottle, the light hits the top of
this, which we kind of created. Should work for us, at
least at some point. One more thing that I see– you
know about [INAUDIBLE], that [INAUDIBLE], the
guy [INAUDIBLE] that created this nice culture
of basically telling behind the scenes,
they kind of set up of how they took a picture. Usually it’s portraiture
or some outdoors shot. And usually the
scene is like this, one light on the right,
second light from top or a little bit from
left, for example. And it’s enough for
people to understand how to take that type of portrait. With this light, you see how
little change of position the diffuser or
light– your light, let’s say– changing the
angle, it affects pictures so much that basically
there is no way to memorize lighting setups
for still life photography. Yes, you can memorize
how I just shoot a bottle and can actually
shoot it much better but using the same technique. But if your bottle will
be not a straight cylinder but a little bit like that–
you know what I’m saying? It’s not going to work. Well, you need to
modify the light on the top to make it
work for that bottle. If bottle is like spherical,
again, it’s not going to work. The only thing to be successful
at still life photography is to understand how light
comes through the camera, where it’s coming from, what kind
of reflection do you see. Is it reflection or refraction? For example, now you’re going
to see some refraction probably, right? We can see through our subject. Let me replace it
with different gel. Sometime it’s cool to
have colored light. Again, one of those
emotional things in still life
photography, one color can help you to
bring some something. So, our glass– and
let’s have some magic. One of the magic comes
from fake things, as usual. In still life photography,
it’s the same thing. This is fake ice. It’s a beautiful
acrylic fake ice cubes. And well, you’ve probably seen
those advertisement pictures with some alcohol,
probably with little glass filled with alcohol
and the rocks, right? So this is what they use. It’s not real ice, because
it’s going to melt, and it’s hard to
get it transparent. Here it’s easy. One piece actually cost
$40– just for you. So let’s fill this
thing with the ice. [CAMERA CLICKS] OK, again, we can
try to add diffuser, because same as this bottle,
we see some sharp reflection. But again, this
looks already not bad because it’s transparent. It’s semi-transparent. You can see something behind it. If you add thing
like this, maybe even rotate a little bit, our glass,
we can get some better look, I would say. You see with gradient, it
kind of starts looking better, especially if you make a
little bit closer look. This is sharp cut of line. You can see it, right? And the ice looks like this. AUDIENCE: Would you emphasize
the texture of the ice while minimizing the
glass reflection? ALEX KOLOSKOV: Well,
probably for this shot, I would put the light
behind it, some spotlight hitting it like this. On the glass, it will probably
make one little spot somewhere, bright spot. If it will be a
sharp light, meaning that it will be something
with honeycomb grid, spotlight basically. But on the ice,
because of the shape, it will probably create lots
of interesting reflections, refractions. That’s how we can see. Is this what your question? OK. Now stop motion. It’s almost time for
questions and answers. Do you guys have a question? We do have things to
talk about when I’m done. Because we may shoot
for 15 minutes. Or we can, I don’t know, shoot
for five and talk for ten. OK, I’ll try to do it
as fast as possible. Let me do it simple. Let’s do it simple. I need the thing in my hand. Usually in studio I may use
some special trigger that is a trigger which can
be triggered by sound or triggered by light,
meaning that if I have some tiny light going
through this way and throw liquid, when I
intersect that line of sight, you know like in
garage door opener, it will trigger the light. However, it’s possible
to do it just with hand if you have practice, of course. So how do you do it? This way or that way? [LAUGHTER] OK, so I’ll try. Oh, one thing to
make it more chances to be successful
at this, I do this. Do you know what I did? Exactly. Mirror flip, meaning that it
will– I press it immediately without any delay, take a shot. So mirror look up, right? That’s how it looks like. And let’s try– three, two, one. [CAMERA CLICKS] Boom. OK, so we got something. We got something, which
already looks emotional, right? Ooh, I see. It’s like this is one of the
things that easily can bring emotion to the still life shot,
something which you cannot see with the naked eye, right? This is one of the
things that you usually don’t see in real life. Here we can freeze
it and see something. But let’s examine it. Boom. What is going on? AUDIENCE: How fast
is it [INAUDIBLE]? ALEX KOLOSKOV: One second. You see it’s blurry. It’s all blurry. I had it focused. What’s going on? It’s motion blur. And, well, I have–
what’s the shutter speed? 1/100 of a second. I can go up to 800 of a second,
but it’s not going to help, because with high
speed photography, we’re freezing motion
not with the shutter, at least in studio,
but with the light. Because without
light, this picture will be completely dark. Take a look at this. I just took a picture. Here, what we see with ambient
light on given exposure is dark. There are very few highlights
from the spots of light. So the only light that
we have is our strobe. And if strobe impulse
will be short enough, top camera will capture
only the time when it fires. So the whole idea
is to, in our case, change the mode of the strobe
from normal kind of color, constant color, to high speed. [INAUDIBLE] can do it. ProPhoto can do it. Paul C. Buff Einstein can do it. Speedlights immediately have
it, all the speedlights, battery-powered
little speedlights, various shot [INAUDIBLE]
and lower power settings. Again, if you want to
learn more about this, Photigy is the answer. So let me do this, minimum. So it went from 1/1,700 of a
second to 1/5,600 of a second, this light and same
for this light. Oh, actually this
light is good as well. It’s already
1/6,000 of a second. And let’s do this shot again. OK, will we be lucky this time? [CAMERA CLICKS] Well, sort of. Let’s try to do a few more. Because it’s interesting
that this flash photography, when you throw in the
liquids, technical side usually is very easy,
once you get it, kind of how to set up light. You put some light
modifiers for the subject. It’s all easy. The hardest part and probably
the most interesting part is the shape in the splash. Because everyone can
do like I just did. But to do that Google
and things that you will see in my portfolio,
it takes so much time to just train your hand to
throw something interesting. Well, it’s cool. It’s almost like a painting. You paint, and looks like crap. You paint again and crap. So you need to kind of learn
and do it again and again. [CAMERA CLICKS] Oops, I think it was
too early, right? Yeah, it’s coming this way. Oh, you know, let’s do
things in a focus plane. You understand if I throw in
this way, part of the splash may be out of focus, because
this is our focus in plane, right? So I’ll do it this way. [CAMERA CLICKS] No– too early. Well, I was surprised
for the first time how I kind of got it, just like, wow. But there is a price
for this, right? [CAMERA CLICKS] Ah! [CAMERA CLICKS] OK, so let’s see. Let’s see how it looks like. Well, it’s a little
bit out of focus, but basically there is no motion
blur where things are in focus. And of course, the slide is a
little bit too bright for this. So we need the diffuser. Kyrill, will you help me? I want to get you [INAUDIBLE]
a little bit for the last shot. Then we’ll have Q&A. Please
hold this like that, OK? And I’m going to
throw water at you. Yes, it’s not fair. I will be wet. He is not. OK, like this. So you create a gradient, right? Let’s see. Am I right or not? OK, Kyrill, you have
yourself somewhere. Oh, it’s me. [LAUGHTER] I think it’s Kyrill
but it’s not. OK, so a little bit of gradient,
maybe even do like this, OK? [CAMERA CLICKS] Ooh, even better. [CAMERA CLICKS] Meh. I want to fly it on top. Yeah, like this. And then I want to heat it. And it will be last shot,
because bottle is gone. [CAMERA CLICKS] OK, whatever– almost. Thank you. All right, so now it hit, right? We did it. We did it on this side. Yeah, not really visible. But we did it. But all this flying liquid
can look really nice when it’s in the frame. OK, this is, in short, how all
still life commercial studio photography looks like. Photographers sit in quiet
environment, usually, with very few people around,
and can spend hours or days sometimes to get
something really nice. It was like this,
but then Photoshop came to the game, then
3D Max and all this to where now you
either can spend time shooting it and
making the light, or you can just grab one light,
hold it, shoot several walking around the subject, so we
have all kind of reflections, and then put them together in
Photoshop, composing the shot, and erasing some parts, so
it’s kind of really crazy. And there is no right
or wrong way to do it. That’s it. Any questions? Let’s talk about. [APPLAUSE] Thank you. [APPLAUSE] AUDIENCE: Hi. Sorry, you may have mentioned
this early, but what shutter speed are you using? Because when I’ve tried to do
anything with motion before, I feel like the sync speed
limitation of like 200 or 250 gets in the way of this. So I’m curious. Is this because you’re
using a Hasselblad, or are you just using
a regular sync speed? ALEX KOLOSKOV: OK, I got it. So it’s about X-sync
speed of the camera. Hasselblad has a lift
shutter, and that’s why X-sync speed is equal to the
maximum shutter speed, actually 1/800 of a second. For DSLR, it’s not the
case, in most cases. And with DSLR, we shoot
at [INAUDIBLE] speed. Usually it’s around
1/200 of a second. And it’s not a problem, because
shutter stays open for 1/200 of a second, completely open. You understand the difference
between X-sync and faster? If, let’s say, you shoot 1/4,000
of a second shutter speed, shutter is not going to open and
close for 1/4,000 of a second. No. It’s not working this way. It will make a
little gap and move this gap across the
frame, exposing it, like line by line, basically. That’s how it creates 1/4,000
of a second, for example, shutter speed effective. But in reality, it
moves much longer time. So X-sync, it’s the shot
on the fastest shutter speed when it opens completely. When it opens,
that’s what we need. We can use high speed strobe. It can be speedlight. The least expensive is
adjust the speedlight. If you put your speedlight into
1/4 of full power, or less, but not more, it will give you
about a 1/4,000 of a second, T 0.1. I’m not going to talk
about these technical ways of measuring. Basically it will give you
really short flash duration. Like this, we have 1/6,000
of a second, right, with those lights. So this would freeze it. And we shoot at X-sync speed. Again, I don’t have DSLR, but
if I would shoot with the same light on the top with
1/8,000 of a second, I will get just little–
actually, it will be like this. Little part of our
frame is highlighted. The rest will be completely
dark because it’s behind the curtain. AUDIENCE: Hi. The tool you’re using
to like throw the water, it seems like– can
you talk about that? Like how it shapes the
water you’re throwing? ALEX KOLOSKOV: Yeah, this
is patented technology. [LAUGHTER] It’s a funnel. I kind of stuck some
sort of playdough. So it’s not– it works as a cap. But yeah, in throwing
splashes, the shape of the things that you have
liquid on, it’s very– well, it’s changed the shape a lot. But the thing I can
easily do, C-shaped splashes– I didn’t do it
because it’s a tight frame. But I was experimenting. There are so many things
that you can put the liquid and throw it. I don’t know– did
you see it or not? I don’t have it much here. I’m going to show you later. Like I have a splash where three
colors collide and kind of mix in. And it wasn’t for the shot. It was real, three colors
filled with something like this, where I divided
it by 3 sections, three different colors of paint. I throw it, and in the
air it’s really nice. So it’s about shaping
the splash, partway. AUDIENCE: What
liquids do you use for colors and a
matte like splashes, rather than transparent
glossy water? ALEX KOLOSKOV: Oh,
what dye, what ink? We either use already mixed. If it’s something that
should be non-transparent, we use just paint, latex
paint, acrylic paint, different colors. But if we need something
transparent, semi-transparent, we use just food coloring
in any grocery store. It should be clear. There are different ones. Clear is better. And in addition to
this, sometimes you need to change viscosity
of your liquid. And if you want it to be like
water-like, it’s a secret, but I love you. We use glycerin. Glycerin you can buy
a very big can of it. It’s relatively non-expensive
compared to what you can buy, in pharmacies. And you mix it with
water, and you can kind of get any viscosity. You can have thicker, thinner,
just based on the ratio. AUDIENCE: In some of the shots
in your portfolio on the web, there were almost surfaces
of water or liquid where they were apparently
lit from both below and above. Is that just the strip light
spanning the difference, or do you have more complex
lighting configurations for some of these? ALEX KOLOSKOV: When liquid
is like a sphere, right? AUDIENCE: Yeah. ALEX KOLOSKOV: OK, we throw
it, and it gets this way. And that we did actually
on this workshop that we had here in
California first time. When we have enough
room, you can throw, and if liquid is thick
enough, you can throw it, it will fly like something
without any form, and then at some point–
you’ve probably seen it– when you throw liquid,
let’s say from second floor, it flies, flies, flies,
and then it bursts, right? You’ve seen this effect like if
you put like bucket of liquid. Before it happens,
before it bursts, it starts inflating
like balloons itself. So it starts going like this. And if you catch the moment when
liquid goes– just before it bursts, that’s what happens. That’s what we do. It’s truly amazing, techniques,
what you can do with motion. AUDIENCE: So how
do you get started with splash photographing? Where’s the minimal
setup you need? ALEX KOLOSKOV: Speedlights. I have one speedlight. You can start with
splash photography. Let me tell you. The fastest way to start
with splash photography is just one speedlight. Have a white background,
white wall, whatever. Put that speedlight– put
some honeycomb grid on it, better around it so it
will have great spot, OK? Put the glass in front so
it’s enough for the glass, for example, to have only one
light to be on the background. And it will be visible, right? Because it’s transparent. I’ll show you. One demonstration is
worth 1,000 words, right? Well, it’s a little bit too
dark, but this is the idea. Do a setup like
this with one light. And then throw
something on the glass. You will see my splash. This is technically. I don’t know– did you
ask about business side? In business, you need
to do a lot [INAUDIBLE] with something really cool
and start reaching out. MALE SPEAKER: All right,
so we’re out of time. Let’s thank Alex again
for this presentation. [APPLAUSE]

9 Replies to “Alex Koloskov: “The Magic of Light In Still Life Photography” | Talks at Google

  1. Why can't I unsubscribe to your freaking channel! You force you crap on those of us who don't want it!! UNSUBSCRIBE ME!

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