The brief for exercise 1.12 was to freeze frame a fast-moving object in a still location. The object needed to be something that could break.
For the exercise I found a piece of white paper and 16 eggs. My camera was positioned just under two feet from the impact area and about two feet up in the air. I was using my 40mm macros lens on its infinity setting. Although the exercise instructions asked for the camera to be set up a few metres from the impact area I’m assuming that this was to avoid damage to the camera itself. Positioning my camera closer allowed me to get a few more details than I think I would have if I’d been positioned further away from the impact zone. It certainly wouldn’t have given the same detail that I got in a number of cases as the yolk and egg white splattered.
Prior to starting the exercise I focussed the camera on the potential drop point and did a couple of test shots using both the lens cap and a small ball, the latter dropped a number of times by one of my young assistants. I switched to shutter speed mode so that I could set the speed I wanted and let the camera calculate the actual aperture for me. The important thing for me with these shots was freezing the action at the right time.
With everything prepared I briefed my 9 year old nieces on what they had to do. Hold out an egg and on a count of 1, 2, 3, drop release it so that it hits a particular spot, or as close to it as possible.
Not every egg hit that spot, some landed out of shot.
Not every egg broke on the first drop, although all of them did on a second drop.
The camera didn’t fire every time, the remote failed to trigger the camera a number of times.
When the camera did fire, there were times where the egg had already broken, was still in the air or hadn’t come into shot. Getting the timing right was a matter of guess work. I decided to avoid using the viewfinder or live view to take the shots as there was the risk that by the time I saw the egg in shot and reacted I’d miss the shot completely. Better to make a judgement call as the egg dropped and I thought it was about to hit the ground.
Of the 28 shots that I took, only 12 were of the eggs being dropped. On four occasions the camera failed to trigger. The other 16 shots were preparation using the lens cap and ball.
I found the activity challenging, but certainly a fun thing to do with two 9 year olds, I just have to hope that they don’t go home and start dropping eggs on the floor in my sister’s kitchen.
Reviewing the photos at the time I was happy with the exposures I was getting. ISO, shutter speed and aperture were fine for the images, it was just a matter of time.
Reviewing the photos afterwards I wasn’t happy with the colour on the egg yolk and so I processed each of the images in Photoshop and applied the Yellow Boost Hue and Brightness setting as well as adding a Contrast Layer which I allowed the Auto setting to adjust things. The white background needed the contrast increasing so that it brought out the creases in the paper.
Running through the example set of questions for evaluating photos:
• What is the subject?
The subject is broken eggs
• Is the subject clearly visible or is it obscured?
The eggs are clearly visible, there is nothing to obscure them.
• What’s behind the subject? Is it distracting?
There is nothing behind the subject to distract the viewer. The plain white background also provides very little by way of distraction, other than creases in the paper.
• Does the composition have any other major distractions?
There are no major distractions in the composition. The increasing number of broken eggs could be a distraction and each broken shell could have been removed before dropping the next but without constantly cleaning up the egg’s contents in between shots, the growing amount of egg white and yolk would have left the viewer just how much was coming out of one egg or what had happened to the other eggs. The broken eggs I feel add to the images and also provide things that enable the way each egg breaks to be unpredictable.
• Is the subject in or out of focus?
The subject is in focus because all the focusing was performed prior to dropping the eggs and the camera was then left on a manual setting so that the camera would not try and automatically focus on an object each time a shot was taken.
• Is the image well exposed?
The camera was set to use shutter priority with the ISO setting fixed for each shot. The camera was left to adjust the aperture which ensure correctly exposed photographs. Post processing did not require any change in exposure.
• What is the contrast like?
Contrast was not what I would have liked and so I needed to adjust it during editing.
• Is the colour balance the way you remember it?
The egg yolk was quite pale in colour and the original, in-edited photos showed this. Strengthening the colour of the egg yolks gave a more satisfying look to the images.
The images below are the ones I like the most of the edited photos.
The reason I chose the images above is because the timing of the shots was such that you can see the egg yolk splattering.
In the case of number 5, you can clearly see egg yolk shooting through the air on the left hand side of the image. This is my favourite photo of the entire set.
This was a fun activity to do with my two nieces and there are so many variations of this that could be done. Throwing paint filled balloons at a wall. Changing the angle at which the shots are taken. If I revisit this particular activity with the twins in the future then I’ll be looking to use a much lower angle so that the shots are not from above but more from side on, which will include a bit more background but also a better view of the eggs shattering and their contents splattering.
The entire sequence of photos are in the contact sheets below.