Paint Explosion

Freeze liquids in motion and discover exactly how you can capture an image like this one!

This shoot presented numerous mind-boggling complications. However, with the right application of logic and knowledge, professional photographer Karl Taylor shows you precisely how it can be accomplished.

With the help of Tim Gaudion on this project (the man behind many of our wild contraptions and builds!) you’ll see how the team build a one of a kind device to turn Karl’s crazy ideas into reality, proving that anything is possible with a bit of ingenuity, problem-solving, and testing.

Delve into the camera settings, lighting, and the intricate process of manually capturing a paint splash, and learn why manual capture is preferred over trigger devices in this particular case. Also, uncover the secrets to mastering flawless lighting to capture the paint in all its magnificent glory!

In this class:

  • Cultivate problem-solving skills – crucial for all photographers!
  • Dive into photography with speedlights.
  • Discover the perfect camera settings used to freeze motion.
  • Gain a comprehensive understanding of fast flash duration.

To see Karl retouch this shot, check out Paint Explosion Review.

If you find yourself captivated by the world of splash photography, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the Sports Product Shoot With Paint Splash and Liquid Fashion.

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.



  1. Hi, Karl
    Why you were shooting 1/500 shutter? 1/160 or 1/200 would be enouth because the flashes do the freeze work right?

    1. Hi yes in most cases as long as your surrounding ambient light is low enough then a 1/200th will cut out all the ambient light, especially if you are already at a small aperture. You are correct that the flashes would be doing the freezing, the shutter speed has no impact other that cutting out the ambient light and modelling lamps etc, therefore there is no disadvantage to putting the shutter speed faster as long as it still syncs with the flashes. For example if I’m shooting fashion on location with models running etc then the flash will do the freezing but a faster shutter speed is essential to get rid of the excess daylight.

  2. Hi Karl,
    I have a question regarding the flash duration. I have the very same flashes (Elinchrom Rx600) and when I have to freeze splashes I prefer to rent Profoto or Broncolor because the have freeze mode. I never tested how fast the Elinchrom can go. All I found on the manufacture’s website is this:

    Action freezing flash durations at full power. Style RX 300: 1/2850 s; Style RX 600: 1/2050 s; Style RX 1200: 1/1450 s (all at t=0.5.) No values for t=0,1sec.

    Do you have or know where I could find the values of the flash duration t=0,1 at different powers?

    On the final pictures you wrote 1/8000th of the second. Is this value real?

    Thank you.


    1. Hi Felipe, if they haven’t published the t0.1 data then you won’t find it but a good rule of thumb would be to double the value and take a bit off to arrive at the t0.1 value, so for example 1/2850s would become 1/1425s but put a bit back on so call it 1/1600s would be it’s t0.1 reading. This is why a lot of manufacturers use the t0.5 measurement because it makes there flashes look faster – The reason i’ve written 1/8000th is because the key lights in my shot were the cluster of speedlites that you see either side of the paint not the elinchroms which were only providing a fill. If you’d like to learn more about flash duration see this chapter – Cheers Karl.

  3. orlycatz

    I’ve watched this one a few of times, I love it, incredible work and skill Karl. It actually gave me an idea for an image, and I will certainly give you the credit for the inspiration. Thank you !!!

  4. derrick_connell

    I know this is a relatively old course – but I’m interested in trying out the paint explosion.

    Do you happen to recall the type of paint you used? I guess it’s water based?

    It appears it is mixed with water to increase viscosity – any insight on that mix ratio would be terrific. I will experiment myself but I’m finding your modules fantastic as a starting point.

    Many thanks

    1. derrick_connell

      Scratch that question – just noticed you have it listed on the right side (watered down emulsion paint)

  5. I have following you since last five years and have notice one thing in you work that is your unique concept of shoots so I really wanted to know that how did you get the idea or concept for any kind of shoot.In simple words how do you think out of box. Whats makes you so inspired to reach that level.

    1. Hi Mohit, I’d say it comes down to several things including observational skills, inspiration and passion. I’m constantly trying to think of ideas and sometimes I get inspired from movies, a certain look of light, the shape of an object, the emotion from a book, art etc etc – then when I have an idea I usually sketch it out on paper, this is called pre-visualising and this helps you figure out how you can make it happen.

      1. Thank you so much for your great response . I am from Mumbai India and really try to meet you from last 5 years as am following you since long time, but for now it’s not possible also due to covide19 . So what should I can do to talk to you personally I have some interesting queries and good questions . Please let me know how it’s possible to stay in touch with you personally.

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