Liquid Photography With David Lund

Liquid specialist and former Karl Taylor Education student David Lund joined Karl in studio for an exciting episode somewhat different (and far more messy) to past shows.

Working closely with Karl, David brings his liquid expertise and unusual gadgets to the studio, showing exactly what can be achieved when using creative solutions to control water. Together Karl and David show you a number of different techniques, each of which produces completely unique results. Using water, colored gels and David’s creative contraptions, it’s a show you don’t want to miss.

In this live photography workshop we cover the following:

  • Controlling and manipulating liquids
  • Problem solving and creative solutions
  • Using colored gels for creative effect
  • Photographing using trigger devices
  • Photographing different objects in water
  • The advantages of shooting in mirror lock-up mode

To find out more about David and his career, watch his live talk show or read our blog post ‘Designer to photographer – David Lund’.

If you have any question about this shoot, use the comments box below.


  1. Another question: Soft gradient behind .. got it.. side lights.. hard lights. Makes sense.. Would you ever, or have you ever used a softbox for the side light? Or perhaps a para..? although I don’t happen to have one. Is it all about edge and rim light?

    1. Hi Gary, a Para makes an excellent side or rim light on models and fashion but not on glossy products because of the reflected image.

  2. Is there a limit to how far an angle you can shoot from low front with a tank.. so the perspective in the camera is only below water and the top of the image is the surface of the water from below .. say 45 degrees from front and low?

    1. Hi Gary, I’ve not tested this but at a certain angle that becomes to acute you will have distortion from refraction through the glass and an increase in the colour of the glass potentially and a general lack of clarity. At what angle that would be would depend on the material and the thickness.

  3. Hi Karl,

    Sorry I didn’t know where to place this question, but I know that it did appear on one of your shows with David Lund so thought here might be a good spot.

    This is about pricing, and how to price to include changes.

    I understand that you, and other photographers such as David Lund, work with agencies that deals with these. But do you have any advice on how to charge clients to include changes that are needed after the photoshoot, for us that deals with clients directly? Or maybe you have some advice from your earlier days of doing this?

    I have just figured out the pricing side of things, however I seem to have encountered some clients that would come back to me asking for changes (some do and some don’t). They would have the mood board originally, and they would agree to the style of the images, and then they seem to “change their minds” and come back with last minute changes.

    I usually provide an up-front quote for all cost (except props/perishables), and I’m figuring out how/when to include “changes” into this.

    Just wondering if you could shred some light and provide some advice on how to deal with these? Of course if it’s something where I’m at fault, I would make the changes.


    1. Hi Maxine, the pricing is always based on the precise brief supplied and the quotation created for that brief. This is why in advertising photography the brief and requirements (shot list) are nailed down very precisely to avoid changes, it needs to be made clear in your contracts that any deviation from the brief may incur additional work, props etc that will require extra charges. As long as you have that firm brief and agreed price then a client can’t argue that there wasn’t changes from the original quotation. Kind regards Karl.

      1. Hi Karl, the brief I usually have are more “mood boards” than anything, and not a precise drawing/stretch that the client provides as you have shown in some of your courses/talks. The projects I do for clients are usually multiple images (for website/packaging/social media, not advertising), with the style taken off the mood boards and props are agreed on, and I guess the final images are usually subject to interpretation. The only time I have heard of anyone speaking of changes is David Lund’s talk about his shell project, as in how he was glad he charged what he charged as the client came back with a lot of changes (that was included in the quote). So I was just probing for some inside into how this would be priced. 🙂 Thanks for the explanation on this Karl. Thanks, Maxine

  4. I’m having trouble sourcing a decent acrylic tank locally. Does anyone know of options that can be purchased online? Or are these tanks usually custom made?

    1. Hi Jidoe, they are usually custom made, most water proof tanks are glass which if you get the optical clear glass ones are fine from aquariums. Sign service companies should be able to make you a custom size acrylic one.

      1. Hi DanyDeluxe, which second part are you referring to? The interview with David has only the interview part.

  5. Hi Karl,

    Another great workshop! Just tried my first tank shoot and I noticed some reflections in the front of the fish tank. Curious how I can minimize this from happening? The reflection was in the front of the tank, facing the camera.

  6. Hi Karl,
    By any chance, can you recall what colour code were the big Lee-Filters blue gel sheets used for the background?
    Hopefully you can find something in the archives.
    All the best and thanks,

  7. I am not sure if this was mentioned but the water cannon David uses is a laminar flow nozzle.

    They are not the easiest thing to build, although there are a few companies I know of in China who can make spotless ones for around 100-150USD including internal lighting.

    Davide Bortolami

  8. Karl, David are you guys not afraid of giving away these photography secrets and creating more competition against yourself ?

    I guess I would like to know your thought process?
    I know some photographers have a hide all my information type mentality.

    I been in software development for 25 years, I teach, tutor, but some other veterans that I know do not like to help the young guys or people taking up the trade.

    Thanks man !

    1. Hi Jared, no I’m not really concerned at the end of the day I’m confident in my experience and ability, it still takes people time to refine the skills through practise and of course many people won’t get as far as actually ‘doing’ but they enjoy just understanding the process.

  9. Really like these shows. So much info on a very complicated subject.

    I am submitting one of my tank shots for the October Photo Competition.


  10. Hi Karl,

    That was my favourite shoot so far. I have so many ideas I want to try now.

    Do you remember what colour tone the large blue filter was at the back?

    1. Hi John, I don’t remember at the moment but I will try and dig out the filter tomorrow and come back to you, I’m out on a shoot today.

      1. Hi Karl,
        After having repeatedly watching this very enjoyable show, I was going to ask the same question: what colour code was the Lee-Filters blue gel used for the background?
        Hopefully you can find something in the archives or maybe David could advise.
        All the best and thanks to both of you,

  11. I can’t believe, I missed your workshop in HULL thats where I live, nothing like this EVER happens here I always have to travel to London etc. for this type of course

  12. Hi Adam
    Thanks for the comment glad you had so much fun.
    We made quite a mess didn’t we.
    Liquids and pistons and hi speed, are so fascinating,

    Currently making a giant vortex but with a electronic controllable aperture, and variable pump speed, this will allow a sudden massive wide diameter down the centre of the vortex. Love to use one of those super fast robot arms to zoom down into the bottom of the vortex, while adding coloured inks in.

  13. Hi Karl!
    I was on David masterclass at 21 of July. It was brilliant! Please bring him back to your show! Do something big! Fire, guns, explosions… ehhh better nooo 😉 We don’t want burn your studio 😉 AnywayI believe guys you can create something special!

    Regards, Adam

  14. Ive just remembered where i seen your face before david, was you at the photography show 2018 doing your paint explosion covering a guys head in blue paint??

    1. Dan so sorry for the epic delay.. to your question but yes was at the NEC did 2 talks and a crazy paint explosive demo on the main stage.

      Not sure ill get invited back as they had to recapped the stage after us…. But it was fun!

  15. Hi Gina, thank you for your comments, glad you enjoyed the show. Yes doing things live is fun!!! and unpredictable at times. Absolutely love my job. Karl has been a continual inspiration with his teaching material.

  16. That was great ya’ll! I can tell David is such a gentle soul. Love your humor Karl. I learned so much while laughing my head off at ya’ll. Point being is that ya’ll were willing to show everyone that things rarely go smooth all the time even for the experts. I loved this show.

  17. Hi Karl, I have a question regarding Flash duration. I only have speedlites, and am aware that the lower the power the shorter the flash duration. eg. 1/128 = 1/20’000 sec My question is, in your experience what is the best speed to capture splashes in a water tank ? Thanks

  18. That was a nice show to watch Karl. Seemed like you guys didn’t have enough time to move on a leisurely pace, but the idea is great! I’ll be looking forward to watching the recording of the interview with David!

    Some 7-8 years ago in shanghai I played a bit with freezing water splashes. We didn’t use strobes though. We shot at high iso and fast shutter speeds.

    I did have a question on the background construction though. I understand now how the ball of light works with diffusion material etc, but in this setup, how important is the size of the scrims? We don’t all have space for an 8 ft scrim. Is there a background setup that is smaller but gives a similar effect?

    1. Hi Kryn, yes I can appreciate the space requirements, although you will often see us using a large scrim that is mostly because it is the scrim that we have. Many of these things can be placed a bit closer and be considerably smaller. Even the extra diffusion wasn’t entirely necessary, for example this setup could have been achieved with the single layer of acrylic diffusion and the blue gel placed over the back of that and then the light behind with another blue gel on it. Or with an additional light bouncing of the wall behind to ensure the corners of the scrim did not vignette too much.

  19. As always really interesting live show!

    One thing I hate though is having the “countdown time” in each live show replay. For instance this one has about nine minutes before the actual show starts. Can’t this useless part be removed from the replay’s? I would really appreciate that!

    1. Hi Ruud, it is usually removed from the replays or at least shortened, I will ask Ben our video editor to check this one.

  20. Great suff, really enjoyed it and got some great tips along the way. Waiting for the water canon to load was a tense moment!! LOL

  21. I had to watch this after the event and in two parts because of other commitments. I just finished watching it and wanted to leave a quick note to say how much I enjoyed it.

    I could see the possibilities of using these techniques on product shots and I’m looking forward to trying some of them when my wife leaves the kitchen unattended for a couple of hours… :o)

  22. out standing work. the whole set up so handy and so much one could do with that one set up
    thanks again Karl & David looking forward to next show

  23. For many years Trengrove studios in the U.S. have been the standard for high quality acrylic ice cubes. I suspect that’s the brand name David was trying to remember. Calumet used to sell them in the U.K.. Set Shop in New York has them.

    1. The Set Shop is the only place I have found that sells the Acrylic “Shards” and you can buy one and finance it on your MasterCard in 36 payments!

      That was a fun session to watch and learned a lot… Karl apparently had a couple Red Bull’s before this one!

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