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Water drop photography

Water drop images are great to look at and are quite easy to make. This tutorial will show you how to do it.

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Water Drop photograph
Now, you will probably see some spectacular photographs of still water droplets splashing in the water, or on its way into the water. These photographs are not too hard to achieve as long as you have patience, and the right gear.

Firstly, there are three main types of high speed photography: Birds in flight, Insects in flight and water droplets. The first two subjects require specialist kits, whereas the water does not.

Here are the pieces of equipment you will need:
  • A camera body
  • A lens that allows close focusing - an ideal lens would be macro
  • A tripod or a firm surface to lay the camera on
  • A flashgun OR you can try using the built in flash. However, a flash gun will prove more effective
  • A black dish about 1 or more inches deep and fairly big
  • A plastic bag which will hold the water that will eventually drop
  • A coloured background
  • Off camera TTL Flash cord
Pretty much most of those items can easily be bought in large shops.

Getting Started
So how do you lay it out? Well think of it like this: The camera must be positioned in front of where the drop will be dropped - about 1in above water level, and 5-8in away. Then, place your background at the BACK of the dish. So it goes camera, dish, bakground in a line. Now the flash. This has to be positioned to the right side of where the drop will drop using the off shoe camera cord, and facing towards the background. The flash will bounce of the background - giving a nice colour, depending on what colour the background is AND a lovely reflection.

Now, you need to place the plastic bag above the dish. You can tape it to a wall, a retort stand, a cupboard or anything really! Just make sure it is about 5in above the water dish.
Water drop photography set-up

Taking the photos
Next, you must make a small hole using a pin into the bottom of the bag. This should create a very steady flow of water. If you want the flow to be faster, then simply make the whole a bit bigger. Remember to fill the plastic bag with water first!

Now switch the camera to manual focus. Where the drops are falling, place a biro pen just on that spot. Then, with the camera simply focus on the biro. This will be where the drops fall - this is your predefined point of focus.

Now double check that the flash is facing the coloured background.

The settings I use are:
  • Manual Mode on the camera set at 1/60s and f/22
  • Manual mode on the flash also, set at 1/64 or 1/32 power setting. These power settings will make the flash duration really short - meaning you are able to freeze the motion to a shutter speed of approximately 1/40000 of a second even though the camera is set to 1/60!
  • Make sure you work in the dark as well - this improves the colour and the flash works better too. Remember there is a constant flow. Then just hold down the shutter for about 7 shots, look at them and then repeat the process.
Colliding the Drops
I am sometimes asked 'How do you get the drops to collide'?

Well, the answer is, the hole in the plastic bag. If you make the hole in the bag the right size by experimenting, you will get a fast flow of drops. This will result in one drop coming up from its rebound, whilst another drop hits it! It is still very hit and miss, and very hard to achieve. Expect to get 400 wasted shots and 5 good ones.
Water Drop photo blue

Taking it further
You can experiment with different liquids and colours including Milk and Coffee! Once you know how to do it - you can use anything you wish!

Also, if you don't have any luck with collisions and you are that desperate - then you can buy a kit of sensors, programmable delay modules, solenoid valves and IR beams. In my opinion, you don't need the expensive kit - this method should work fine and if it works well for me it should work for you!
Water drop photo yellow

To see more of Jonah Surkes photos visit his
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chinny 18 492 United Kingdom
I take it you cant use normal studio lights for this?

jken 16 1.7k 1 United Kingdom
Yes you can. HERE
jonah794 13 1.7k 11 United Kingdom
I don't tend to use Studio lights (mainly cause I dont have anySmile)
How do you use studio flash for this ..the link has gone

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