OK, maybe it's not the abyss. Maybe we're just talking about a fishtank. But here are 35 pretty fantastic high speed photographs, capturing that moment when an object breaks a water's surface tension and plunges.

Winner: Uber Epic

Once I saw your photo challenge for the week I immediately knew I wanted to try it. Within 10 minutes I had decided what I was going to do, I just wasn't sure how. I went home and started experimenting with getting fire on top of the water. I set the shot up in my garage and put the 10 gallon tank on one side of my workbench and covered the rest of the bench in black fabric along with a poster board sticking up to serve as the background. For lighting, I ended up using my SB-900 above and to the front left of the tank. Shooting through the glass resulted in reflections and weird shadows cast by the corners of the tank. For the fire I resorted to using gasoline. It floated on water in a nice blob and was easily ignitable. I did a few tests in a can before doing the full size version and was originally set on nail polish remove, but with the larger volume of water it wouldn't ignite. On the bottom of the tank I placed a piece of 16g sheet metal so the piston and rod didn't break the bottom open. It was quite the chore getting the gas in the tank, lighting it, dropping the piston, and taking the picture. The sequence went like this: pour gas into a cap (about 1-1.5 tablespoons) and pour it in a line down the middle of the tank; reach down on the floor and light a propane torch in one hand and grab the piston and rod in the other. I'd light the tank with the propane torch and then quickly put it down onto the floor as I needed this hand to push the shutter. At this point I'd reach somewhat into the tank taking note not to get burnt and drop the piston and hit the shutter with my other hand. The splashing water would put out about 90% of the flames, the rest I could blow out.

I did get some pictures of the piston and rod half in/half out of the water, but once I was done editing a few I was really drawn to this one. I love the character of the bubbles trying to escape as well as the contrast of the dancing, colorful fire on top of the water and the cold, lifeless looking steel on the bottom. The other ones just seemed so dull to how dynamic this one is. All in all I had a fun time with this project. Camera: Nikon D300, Shutter: 1/160, Aperture: f/7.1, ISO: 200, Flash: SB-900, Exposure: 1/128
-Brandon Shuttlesworth


I found it quite ironic that this challenge arose due to the fact that morning I was working on capturing water droplets. So, needless to say I was in the mindset for the plunge. I scoured the house looking for things to drop and came across some lemons cut for sweet tea (southern guy here). Taking a lemon and setting up the scene similar to the water droplet capture, I snapped away and came out with a few good pics.I named it lemon drop for obvious reasons and also it is the name of a popular shot. I used my Nikon D7000, 18-55 kit lens, and off camera flash set at 1/16 bounced off the wall. Settings were: ISO 100, f5.6, and a shutter of 1/160. Enjoy.
- Tyler Upton


I have previously experimentet with "dropping things into water" pictues and had found out that if the norwegian "1 krone" coin hits the water surface totally flat, a water jet gets propelled upwards throgh the hole. I managed to capture that effect in a couple of pictures this time too, and altough looking good there wasn't anything more to the pictures than just that waterjet. The picture I ended up with isn't what I was after in the first place but appeals to me as it is very open for interpretation. My girlfriend had a very nice interpretation with the upper splash resembling a walking stickman. Said stickman walks on top of the world which is filled up with money, while the world is disintegrating on the bottom. This picture was shot with a Nikon D7000, Sigma 30mm, 1/160 second exposure @ f13, ISO 320.
- Stefan Schlomilch


This was my second time doing high-speed flash photography; so I headed to Petco once again and got a fish tank for about $18 and decided to used my old Apple mouse as my victim. My setup was really simple, one SB-700 and white cardboards for background and fill. Shot with my Nikon D90 and my 50mm 1.8, at 1/200 f8.
- Carlos Garrido

A Splash of Color

I like to try to add my own creative touch to each weeks challenge. I had a fairly easy time following the tutorial from Video Extremist. Although I tried, I had a hard time adding my own ideas to this weeks challenge. I tried fruit, vegetables, flowers, toys, jewelery, rocks, and bullets. If I copied the tutorial to closely, so be it. It was the best shot. "A Splash of Color" was shot employing a couple of strawberries, Chilean peppers, and orange daisy petals floating in a tank of water against a black velvet background. I used my Canon T1i Rebel using Canon's macro EF-S 60mm 1:2.8 lens. Also a shoe cord to a Quantaray external flash, a slave trigger on a Vivitar external flash, and three tripods. Settings where manual, 1/160,f-14, ISO 100, white balance set to flash, with manual focus enabled. Photoshop to remove the water line. I would like to thank Bob Watts for the unselfish use of his equipment, suggestions, support, and guidance in a creative ability that is my own.
- Ron Barrett

Black Death

When pouring cream into a fresh cup of black coffee, I am always in awe watching the drizzle of white churning outward as it hits the surface. A while ago, I played a practical joke on my fiance involving food coloring and a toilet and again, I was amazed when the dark color dissipated in the water. So upon reading about the "Plunge" contest, I grabbed a fairly large vase and experimented with food coloring and water. I had no idea how difficult it would be to time the impacts with the shutter, but after about a hundred shots, I got the hang of it. Cleaning was not very pleasant either. Canon EOS 5D Mark II, f/5.6, EF 100mm 2.8L Macro Lens, ISO-400, Three external Speedlites powered by PocketWizards.
- Daniel Jang

Jolly Suicidal

I went to the pet store and bought a small fish tank for around 10 bucks and then scoured my house for objects to drop into the tank. My boyfriend finally came up with this smiley magic 8 ball. Since I dont have anything near pro lighting I wanted to shoot this on my back patio in indirect sunlight. I ended up having to set up something close to a blanket fort to serve as a studio and limit the reflections on the glass. I took tons of pictures with different subjects, but liked this one the best because it looks like the 8 ball is smiling up at the sky while he takes the plunge. Canon Rebel T3i, ISO 1600 (oops), f/5.6, shutter: 1/100
- Christina Crowner

Lemon Drop

I just recently have taken up photography and I saw a video about making splash photography images sometime last week. Seeing this contest on Gizmodo motivated me to go out and actually try it. I pulled out a vase from our pantry and set it on a chair with a piece of white posterboard about a foot behind it. I used my desk lamp to illuminate the background and set up my camera on a tripod about a yard away from the chair. I had my little brother drop a lemon into the vase when I triggered the shutter; it took maybe four tries to get this image, at which point I was fearful for the safety of my camera because of all the water splashing around. Some adjustments in Lightroom yielded this image. Nikon D40x, 18-55mm kit lens, f/5.6, 1/200 second, ISO 400.
- Zach Blaine Hoskins


My setup included a fish tank supported between two coffee tables, a halogen work light projecting light from beneath the tank and an additional halogen light projecting light towards the front of the tank. Initially i had everything set up inside, however given that I was relying on my shutter speed instead of flash lighting to capture the shot, I eventually gave up until I could take the setup outside where there was more light. Also, I can definitely see where a squeegee would have come in handy, over a paper towel. Equipment used: Canon 7D, Sigma 85mm f1.4. Shot settings: iso 800, 1/2000 & f2.5 .
- Ian Chase

Oh Fuck.

Out with the old and in with the new, right? So I submerged my iPhone in the name of Art and Photography. I took this with my Canon 40D set at f/3.5, ISO-640 and exposure at 1/320 sec. Even though I took a lot of exposures (maybe 200) I lucked out with this one. You can watch the process here.
- Nick Duel

Blushing Brush

I got the idea for this when i dropped a brush into a cup of water while i was painting, and I remembered this week's challenge. I used watercolor paint instead of the acrylic I had been painting with when i got the idea. It was shot in total darkness with a shutter speed of 5 sec and a 2 second timer. The flash was set off manually off while dropping the brush into the vase. The blinking light of the camera timer was useful for seeing where to drop the brush. I didn't take too many shots since I had to toss out the water after each try. There were actually some better practice shots with no paint, but I wanted to stick to my original idea. Canon 60D, Canon 50mm Compact Macro, ISO 250, Aperture f/16.
- Esmer Olvera


So this was done pretty much last minute with limited equipment. For the backdrop we had a piece of paper held up with a tin foil base and the lighting was an old fish tank lamp lid. The water was held in a cheap Ikea glass. For flash we only had one external flash and the built in flash on the camera.The technique was simple: put the camera in continuous shot mode on a timer and try to time when we dropped items into the glass. Often we would only get the item falling towards the water and then the next shot would be the item already fully in the water. This was the standout shot. Shot with a Canon EOS Rebel T3i with a 70-200mm f/4.0L USM in manual mode, 1/200 shutter speed, F9.0, and 100 ISO. The external flash was a Speedlite 430EX II in ETTL mode. Flash was at +2 2/3 in slave mode.
- Martin Grondin


Awesome entries. I can only hope that most of these objects were already busted before they were dropped into the turgid waters of some back alley fish tank. The full galleries are below. The mega-sized shots are on flickr.

Mark Wilson is the founder of Philanthroper, a daily deal site for nonprofits.