Playing with water

This week I decided to give myself a challenge.

I wanted force myself to try something new, in a three day period, all while spending no money.

Sounds hard right? I thought so too.

First I needed a concept. Nothing specific, but something rough enough so I knew what else to look for. At first I looked into working with fire, but quickly found that I’d rather use professional equipment ($$$) than DIY my own. So why not water?

I only needed a rough concept, because I needed to start the search for models. For more elaborate productions, I prefer to give anyone on set a two week notice that I’d need them there. I chose to do this however, because it forced me to work outside my comfort zone.

Within 24 hours I found Allie.

She has never professionally modeled before. She has however, acted in prior projects so I knew she was great in front of a camera, but I knew nothing of her modeling skills otherwise.

I sent her this to get in the zone while I sorted out the rest of the logistics.

Now for the technical stuff.

Mark deRoo has always been an inspiration for my work with water, so I looked into his methods. Unfortunately, I did not have enough scrap hoses, PVC, and tarps around to emulate his work, so I had to improvise.

After a few hours of overthinking complicated contraptions, I had a realization…

I have a garden hose. I have an adjustable sprayer. DONE.

My roommate (and Allie’s boyfriend) Chris joined us outside with our model so I decided to put him to work. I used a pipe clamp to attach the hose to a 7-foot PVC pipe, and put it in his hands.


I clamped a hose to a stick and found a friend/minion. Nothing fancy, nothing expensive.


We tried both using the mist setting, and the shower setting. If you take a flip through the gallery above, you’ll see the difference.

But what about the camera gear?

The water was pretty cold, so I didn’t want too many lights to adjust as that may take too long. Remember this was last minute so I chose not to call up a PA and this was meant primarily as an experiment. I tossed up a YN-560 with a shoot-through at a 45 degree-ish angle to Allie, and added a bare YN-465 as a backlight opposite the key light.

I popped on my 70-200mm f/2.8L IS as to avoid getting wet, and had Chris turn on the hose.

The umbrella protected the YN-560 from getting wet, and I just moved the YN-465 farther back to prevent from getting wet as well. I expected to have to use trash bags to protect the lights, but I was able to spread them out enough.

Yes, that’s it.

I took this as a learning experience. Mostly that planning can be one of your most valuable tools. Allie turned out to be a wonderful model and I look forward to working with her again, but the time constraint could very well have left me high and dry. My favorite lesson was that this was entirely free. Everyone has access to a hose and I’m sure everyone has a tall friend if they don’t have some sort of a boom pole.

Since I put the camera away (she was getting cold, and the mosquitos were coming out) I’ve been toying with different lighting ideas, and am looking forward to building a better rain system that someone won’t need to hold.

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