Floating Cosmetics Splash Shot

Combining carefully controlled lighting and meticulous attention to detail, Karl creates this high-end advertising splash shot of a bottle of Chanel moisturising cream.

Starting at the very beginning, Karl explains the planning and pre-visualisation required to successfully execute this cosmetic shot before starting to build up his studio set and lighting.

This product photography class covers the necessary tools and techniques required to capture a liquid splash shot as well as the necessary lighting setup for a professional product image.

In this product photography class we cover the following:

  • Product photography: How to photograph cosmetics
  • Product photography tips
  • How to photograph splashing liquids
  • How to create composite images
  • The best lenses for product photography
  • Useful tools and equipment for studio photography

To view the post-production for this image, click here.


  1. Hello,
    How do you recommend getting the liquid in focus when shooting larger objects. Would aperture be the only option? Obviously focus stacking wouldn’t work. Thanks!

    1. Hi, shooting with greater depth of field is one option, the other is to shoot the liquid splashes as separate entities and comp them together for the final shot.

  2. This is my third time watching this video. A lot that i can keep learn from this one but quite interested with what Sir Karl said “playing around with light ratio” something i never thought before.

  3. Hello Karl, 3mm or 5mm thick of the acrylic make any difference on the result or gradient ?

    Regards, stay safe.

    1. Hi Daniel, not that I’ve noticed, I have both, I use the thicker one if I don’t want it to bend.

    1. Hi Anish it is lighting diffusion material we mention the brand in many of our other tutorials which I recommend you watch as there are 2 main types that I use for slightly different purposes and there is another way of diffusing using acrylic that you will see in many of our tutorials too.

  4. Hi Karl,
    I would like to know, was there any specific reason to use two lights with bare bulbs for cap and bottle areas ?…. Instead can a large soft-box be used.
    or was it because cap material was glossy glass/ceramic and cap was chrome so we used bare bulbs.

    Thanks you.

    1. Hi, the two materials had different levels of reflectivity so it is easier to control each exposure with two different light rather than one large softbox.

  5. Hi Karl,
    in case i would to treat label in a uniform way, how do i achieve that? i try to explain what i meaning: glossy label “sublimage” is affected by gradient due position of light, therefore the first letter are brightest than the remaining ones. In case i would get a uniform color of label like the black one on below how i can do that?
    thanks indeed

    1. Hi, the physics wouldn’t allow it. The reason the Chanel logo is uniform is because it is non-reflective and black. The ‘sublimage’ writing is gold and reflective so if we have the gradient of light on the bottle where it is then it has to be on the ‘sublimage’ logo too. So our options would be to retouch the ‘sublimage’ logo in Photoshop or move the gradient of light to a slightly different position on the bottle.

    1. Hi Lucas it comes in 3mm or 5mm thick, I usually use the 5mm. For pricing check with your local sign service company or plastic supplier.

  6. Hi Karl!
    Great shot! Are all three flashes on top working with a short pulse? Is it possible to create a similar image with only one high-speed flash?

    1. Hi Alex, yes all the studio lights are using fast flash duration. See the ‘Portrait’ section and watch the lighting theory chapters on understanding flash durations and power etc. In answer to your second question then the answer would have to be no as I wouldn’t have had a background light and I wouldn’t have been able to get the gradients of light where I needed them. However we have plenty of tutorials on shots you can do with one light.

  7. Hi Karl

    Thank you for your response.

    I take the picture with the H6D100c can you tell me what shutter speed should be set for the splash, since I can sync the flash up to 1/2000th of a second? and at what ISO set the camera?

    Thanks again in advance and you are the best.

    Best regards

    1. Hi Aquilino, the shutter speed only needs to be fast enough to cut out any daylight, ambient light or your modelling lights. I’d go up to 1/350th or 1/500th and take a test shot with the flash trigger off and see if you record any ambient light, if not then you know that shutter speed is sufficient for your set up. I shoot at ISO100 but you could easily increase to ISO400 if you need to with minimal effect on the image.

  8. Hi Karl.

    Great explanation and beautiful photo.

    I have a question for the splash: I have as flash a Senso A4 generator with 2 light points plus a picolite that I can mount on the Senso generator, plus I have a Move 1200 generator with only one light.

    My question is: do I use the Senso lights to illuminate the product while the Move uses it as the light behind the scrim to stop the splash? Right????????

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Aquilino, that would seem the most logical given that the water illumination is from the backlighting but I would still get the Senso to it’s fastest duration to be on the safe side. You have to test backlight with and without front lighting to see if the front lighting is causing any blur.

  9. Hi Karl. As usual a great tutorial.

    Just following up on Jared Wolfe’s question, if you were having a problem with too much water splashing onto the camera or lens, would a longer focal length as he suggests (120/150) be a possible solution where you could then move further away from the splash zone?

    1. Hi Peter thanks for your comments. A longer focal length lens would obviously put you further away from the product, the problem with this is that the product doesn’t feel as intimate and can feel to remote, I would rather just put a protective filter on the lens, or just give it a wipe.

  10. Hey Karl,

    Great video. Really loved this one. Quick question:

    When you started seeing the floor and had the bounce mirror in the shot my first thought would be to use a longer lens(maybe the 120/150mm) and back up. Is there a reason you did not do that? Perspective shift would require light position adjustments? Or other potential issues I am not thinking about?

    1. Hi Luigi, it depends in what context, if it doesn’t have a fast flash duration and you are wanting to do work like this then yes. If you are wanting to use if for other work then no.

  11. Hey Karl,

    I was working on a shot where water from a watering can was being poured over an all-weather boot and I had a bit of trouble getting a shot where the drops where sharp (most had motion blur). I was shooting tethered with a with a Canon Mark IV at F11, 100ISO and the fastest shutter speed possible with flash which I believe was 160 or 200. Lighting wise, I used a Profoto Acute 2400 kit. Would I need to shoot with stronger packs such as the Profoto 8a’s? Is there anything else I can do?

    1. Hi Chris, it depends on the relative amount of movement, so for example it is the amount of distance of travel of the moving subject across your composition/frame. In this instance it was high as I was very close in, so I’d expect it to be 1/4000th (t0.1) or faster for this sort of shot.

  12. Hi Karl,

    Great show again! I feel I’m learning a lot.

    The Skrim you use, Home made obviusly. What size is it? What size do you think would suit someone with a small home studio?? would 1.5m x 1m be enough or would it be like a soft box? (bigger the box the softer the light)

    1. Hi Tiaan, I use scrims from 1m x 1m to 5m x 2m so the biggest you can fit in your space and use will be the best option.

  13. Hi Karl very nice explanation of this tutorial.
    I want to ask a question Is every product shot a gradient is necessary for it and the importance of gradient in the product shot?

    1. Hi Akansh, it’s mostly important on glossy or reflective objects, on matt objects it’s not so important.

  14. I have been looking for information like this for a long time! I can’t wait to try this out. So incredibly helpful, thank you!

  15. Karl,
    do you ever use the Scoros’ incredible recycle rate of 10-50 frames a second when you do these liquid/action shots? I’ve noticed you usually just take 1 shot whether it be by the miops/triggersmart or just your timing and reflexes. Ever use a burst?
    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Nicholas, no unfortunately I don’t as the medium format cameras can only shoot about 1 photo per second. If I switched to the fastest 35mm camera then it might be an option.

      1. Ah yes, I forgot about that. I wonder if there is any light “bleed” or “leftover” light from previous flash bursts when shooting at very high burst rates. That question was clear as mud i’m sure…..thanks for the reply Karl.

        1. Hi Nicholas, there wouldn’t be any leftover flash bleed as each burst of flash is 1/2000th of a second or faster.

  16. Hi Karl,

    I want make a portfolio with some comercial products and show it in my web. Can i got problems if this photos show the product brand?

    Thank You

    1. Hi Justiniano, brands will usually only have a problem with it if they don’t like the way their brand is being represented.

      1. Hi Karl,
        you talked about this in a couple of videos/shows. But you never explained what could happen if the brand would have any problems. Maybe that might be interesting for a lot of people here, especially if starting out and not having talked to a lawyer yet about that.

  17. Hello there Karl. I have a two part question for you about this shoot

    1. did you choose the flat pieces of acrylic vs round tubes to stop from having specular highlights that you get from shooting roundish objects or just strictly for rigidity??

    2. How did you fasten the two flat parts together to make the T bar that you have? Just simply hot glue or did the sign manufacturer do it for you?

    Thank you for your time!

    Also this was a super tutorial I am loving all of them so far!

    1. Hi Rodrigo, 1. Strictly for rigidity. 2. The sign manufacturer did this but i’m sure you could hot glue it yourself.

  18. Super training, very detailed and got’s some very simple and extremely useful tips in it.
    Just yet another top level video from my inspiration to becoming a product photographer.
    Thx Karl, you rock!

  19. Hi Karl, can you tell a little more about the Frosted Acrylic. I think I have found the right material where I live in the Netherlands. Can you please advise if its the left or right one your using and if yours is 3mm thick as well? What size would you recommend on getting for these type of shoots.

    I am doubting on getting either this material for background purposes or the diffusion material that your using as well. This one seems an easier solution in terms of setup.


      1. Hi Goodfella, it looks like the one on the right side of the photo is the correct one but it is hard to tell from the picture. 5mm is better. I use lots of different sheet sizes for different jobs. As you would have noticed in this video the sheet size was quite large even for a small product so that I can keep the background further away so go with as large as like. For this one it was probably 1m x 1.5m.

  20. and this one as well,

    Chanel No.5 Perfume Week

    as you can see im a Still Life Photogrpaher in NYC, & my inetrest is in Still Life only.


    1. Hi Yechiel, we undertook 3 shoots for the Channel products, the first shoot will be published in December. The second should be at the end of December or early January and the other cosmetic shots i’m still shooting so should be January or early Feb. I understand that you are interested only in the product shoots but we also have to produce and publish a range of content to satisfy all of our members. I also recently did a live product sunglasses and and another on wine that you might enjoy if you didn’t see them already, you will find these in the live shows section. Cheers Karl.

      1. Hi Karl.

        A quick question. I have seen few videos where you glue the product, so after the photoshoot would you discard both the product and the stand ?

        Sometime, client asks me to return the product.. so if glued it may not be in original condition to return right?



        1. Hi, this type of glue comes off very easily and then simply clean with methylated spirits and it’s as good as new

  21. I’m learning tonnes. This is a FANTASTIC resource. It’s like being an apprentice photographer, every time I watch the build up to a shot I feel so inspired and creative.

    1. Thanks Paul glad you like it. Please spread the word so we can continue to grow our membership and do even better things!

  22. Karl this was probably one of my favorites of the lessons really great work! i’m currently building my portfolio doing this type of studio work, would you be willing to give me some input on how to maximize impact on the portfolio?

  23. Beautifully executed Karl…thank you so much.
    I have a question that if I want to do it with a transparent bottle the same way how can I hold it the way you did ?

    1. Hi Goutam, you can use a strong thin metal rod that will require minimal retouching or use the same method I used which will also require retouching. If you use the same method and the bottle is flat then it would be worth considering making the face of the acrylic the same width as the bottle and the strengthening piece of acrylic as thin as possible.

    1. Hi Yechiel, I use triggers alot in some of my work but it wasn’t necessary for this one. Sometimes triggers are so accurate that you don’t get enough variety in results.

    1. Hi Yechiel, what is feathered live view, did you mean tethered live view? Yes you can use live view on the H6 really well but it’s not so good on the H5.

  24. Hi Karl grate work… Sir as you said splash will go with moisture product it will not looks good with perfume. Sir I want to know if i can use the same setup for perfume which having premium glass bottle. please suggest.

    1. Hi Shovanlal, If you are asking me if this lighting setup is correct for a glass perfume bottle then I would say no because every lighting setup is unique to the subject. Based on your question I would say that you are still missing an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to understanding lighting. Please head to this section https://karltayloreducation.com/course_video_page/introduction-and-understanding-light/ and carefully watch this and the following 15 theoretical modules that cover lighting and using studio lighting.

  25. Hi Karl awesome job ! This tutorial is so well presented. I have a question about you putting the whole set to an angle, would it be possible to do the same but without putting the product+ the scrim + camera at an angle meaning everything being “vertical” like that no need to put the scrim at a complicated angle?

    1. Hi Loic, yes but you have to also think about how your object will interact with the water and the action of gravity. I was far more likely to have gravity on my side with this set up and it isn’t too difficult to support the scrim and object at an angle you just need more stands and grips.

      1. Hi Loic,
        exactly what happened to me when I tried to take a similar shot. I tried having the scrim on the side at a 90 degree angle to the floor since my home studio is very small – with interesting results since the water forms and shapes differently due to gravity. With a bit of patience you will get very good results, different than in the tutorial maybe, but that is a good thing anyways – no need to copy Karl’s setup 1:1.

  26. Great “little” tutorial on specific shot and technique, seems to me a bit like a “case study”. Please do more of them, as they complement beautifully stuff presented in your main series of lessons. Thank you.

  27. This is spectacular and awesome <3.
    This is the best shot I've ever seen this year.

    I say it all the time, you are an aspiring artist and I really really love what you do.

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