Exploding water balloons and patient girlfriends - a chat with June's competition winner

Dainty Rasengan, by Lindsay Stott

We loved the winning photo from June’s photo competition so much that we got in touch with Lindsay Stott – the muchly-talented photographer behind it – to ask him how he did it. He very kindly let us in on the secret of burst water balloons and patient girlfriends so that we can all enjoy our own Dainty Rasengen moment. And seeing as it would be a bit mean to just pick his brains and share his knowledge without getting to know him a bit better, we asked a few questions about him and his photography, too.

Daniela: Hi Lindsay. Would you like to start by telling me a bit about yourself?

Lindsay: Sure! I’m from the sunny town of Montrose, but was fleetingly in Dundee, having been born there.

DEB: When and how did you get into photography?

LS: I’ve always tried to be arty, but my wants never translated to talent. I sucked at painting, my drawings looked as if I’d done them left-handed (I’m right-handed), and the only sculptures I could do was carving my name into trees. I was better at the scientific side of life with a fair amount of talent in physics and maths. Stubborn to the end, along came photography: something that physics blended into and was arty.

DEB: Any exciting photographic projects on the go at the moment?

LS: I have a huge project going on just now, that is taking up a lot of my time. I am currently opening a photography studio with my business partner Steven Bedford, under the name of Mnemonic Photography (shameless plug). We are busy snapping away images of anyone we can get our hands on with our new studio kit and the surrounding area as it’s quite scenic.

DEB: Ooh! Good luck with that! But now it’s time to spill the beans. How did you capture that amazing bursting water balloon?

LS: Sure thing! I got the idea from a magazine or website a long time ago and always wanted to try it. When your competition came, I thought it would make a strong entry for the theme. Convincing my lovely girlfriend to get drenched for it was another matter entirely.

Dainty Rasengan, by Lindsay Stott

Anyway, this is the how. I placed said lovely girlfriend in a shower, made her hold a water balloon and a pin. I zoomed in close so that I had filled the frame full of face and balloon.

The exposure was set so that the ambient was darkness and my flash strong enough to bounce off the ceiling and all around the white shower tiles to give me a nice exposure at f/9. The flash is what will freeze the action here and not the shutter speed.

We did an ‘on three’ thing, with me counting and Ella, the lovely girlfriend, boldly applying ample pressure to the water balloon with the pointy needle to make it explode all over her. The balloon contracts far quicker that the water falls – tension vs gravity or some such nonsense – and you get a lovely little ball of water on her finger tips, only for a moment.

You then take the image into Photoshop, play around with the white balance, exposure, colour hues, vibrance and tonal curve until you are happy and your model is dry. Taa-dah!

DEB: That’s rather awesome. Thank you! And now finally, is there anywhere you’d especially like to take pictures, given half a chance?

LS: I actually have the privilege of going to China this year, with hopes to photograph the Terracotta Army. I can’t wait to flash ‘em!

Many thanks to Lindsay for the chat. Don’t forget to check out Mnemonic Photography!