Joe Morahan’s Colorful Splashes

Written by Ron Egatz on . Posted in Sports Photography

Bookmark and Share
 Joe Morahans Colorful Splashes

©Joe Morahan

Photographer Joe Morahan has been on our radar for a long time. We’ve covered his work previously, and his love of high speed sports photography hasn’t diminished since then.

Based in Denver, Colorado, we usually find Joe capturing athletes outdoors. He recently explained a series of indoor shoots which are no less impressive and action-filled than his outdoor work.

“This summer has been so hot, I think I subconsciously needed to do a shoot that reminded me of being a kid, looking for a way to stay cool – an erupting fire hydrant, a neighbor’s lawn sprinkler, a Slip-n-Slide… anything!” says Joe.

“I began imagining a shoot where I could combine my summertime prerogative of keeping cool with my background in high-speed industrial photography, and my current passion for creating sports photography and films.

“Like many photographers, I keep an “inspiration” file going of cool techniques and styles. I soon found an image that was pretty close to what I wanted to achieve: a female athlete hitting a splash with a baseball bat. The effect was just as striking as I had imagined! I started to get really excited about using this technique in my sports photography, and taking it to a new level.
 

 Joe Morahans Colorful Splashes

©Joe Morahan

“I decided to apply the “splash” technique to several different sports, showing exploding balls of water – frozen at the moment of impact. This kind of shoot could be used in an ad campaign for sports drinks, illustrating the power of hydration in a really attention-grabbing way. I chose a pure black background and rim light to really highlight the shape and position of the athletes and the millions of tiny water droplets exploding around them.

“Over the years, I’ve captured tons of splashes, drops and pours for landscape and tabletop shoots. However, I’d never applied this technique to humans before. Boy, did I learn a thing or two! Before a single model set foot inside that studio, I had my lights and camera settings locked down. Whenever I’m testing a new technique, I do a lot of “pre-modeling” before the talent arrives so they’re not waiting around, losing energy while I’m futzing. As you can see, I make a better photographer than a model!

 

 Joe Morahans Colorful Splashes

“I love making a splash!” ©Joe Morahan

“On the technical side of things, I knew just what to do. To freeze the motion and the water, I powered down my Profoto flashes, almost to the lowest power possible. Next, I cranked up the speed. I knew I could count on the speed of my Profoto lights to capture just the right moment.

“To keep both the faces and the splashes of water in tack-sharp focus, I had to close down my aperture to f/8. With all the kicks, swings and punches, the splashes of water were often 18-24” in front of my model’s face. But when you stop down, you lose light. If you’re using diffusion you then have to kick up the power on your flashes, losing your fast flash duration. So in the end, I didn’t use any diffusion tools and instead, I swept the specular light across my models.

“The craziest challenge was keeping my beloved camera equipment and Profoto gear dry! I’ve dealt with water on-set before, but usually on a smaller scale or as rain falling from above… not exploding in all directions. Safety first, people. We made sure all power connections were lifted off the floor and covered everything in sight with trash bags.

“Ironically, with all that water flying around, my studio got incredibly hot and muggy during this shoot. These images are far more refreshing to look at than they were to produce! So much for staying cool this summer…”

 

Joe Morahan is an innovative and award-winning sports photographer, filmmaker and visual effects artist living in Denver, Colorado. To see more of his work, visit his site and his blog.

Tags: , ,

Trackback from your site.

Comments (11)

  • Margaret

    |

    Excellent! Can you write more about the lighting set up?

    Reply

  • Joe Morahan

    |

    Hi Margaret,

    I have part 2 and part 3 coming up!!!

    It was so much info, lighting, remote triggers, splashes, and I wanted to make sure I tell you all everything, so I split this up in 3 parts.

    I go through all my tricks and leave nothing out. Keep your eyes out for the next few parts to this : )

    Reply

  • Rahmad

    |

    When will the other 2 expected?

    Reply

  • Candy

    |

    How powerful it is!!! I would like to make a digital magazine for it by using FlipBook Creator. It is a really good title!!!

    Reply

  • Luke

    |

    Hi Joe!
    This work is amazing! I was just wondering what you would suggest to use as a light modifier so I could achieve the same rim light effect with off camera speedlites? I was hoping to do something similar with “coloured powder” for my Year 12 Media Final!

    Reply

    • Luke

      |

      Hi Joe,

      Thanks for the fast response, I had a look at part 3 and it filled in some gaps but was also wondering how the light/s were positioned? Since I’m only a student I’m using speedlites due to price, I have three of these for my Nikon D800.

      Also I’ve been testing myself and have got nice results BUT the flash colors is still to white. did you use gels or whitebalence or did you play in post production to achieve the natural/orange light.

      Thanks allot ill defiantly have to let you know how my folio turns out!

      Reply

      • Joe

        |

        Hi Luke,

        So to break it down a little bit more for ya…..I used 2 lights…..one was on either side of the model…..a little bit back, almost like a rim light. There is a fine line between a true rim light, and a rim light that adds a little light to the subjects…..and thats what you are looking for….a tad bit of light on the face, arms, and legs…..then do your splash…..I added the color in post production. So in all of my shots I had a white splash and added the color later. hit me up on email and I will let you know how to add that good color. joe@joemorahan.com. I hope this helps you out…..and keep trying. The more you fail, the more you learn and the better these will come out for ya. Good Luck!!!

        Reply

        • Luke

          |

          Hi Joe,

          Thanks for the great incite! ill make sure to send through an email!

          Cheers!

          Reply

Leave a comment