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Details of Water Drop Photography and Miops Splash Water Drop Kit

Details of Water Drop Photography and Miops Splash Water Drop Kit

Water splash photography is notoriously difficult to get right, but when done correctly can produce outstandingly beautiful photographs. Images of water drops captured in a fraction of a second show a world we just can’t see with the naked eye.

A simple way to do water drop photography is to use an eyedropper and a full cup to drop water into, but the results are unreliable and often difficult to synchronize with the camera triggering. That’s why using a specialist water drop kit is a good idea. The MIOPS Splash Water Kit does an incredible job at synchronizing both camera and flash with water drops, allowing users to choose both the size of the drop and the rate at which they drop - including setting up several drops in one sequence for unique patterns and shapes as the drops interact.

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The MIOPS Splash Water Kit is simple to set up with just a few cables, and works with any digital camera. Off-camera flash is recommended for this type of photography because it offers an infinite amount of lighting options to produce stunning and impactful photos and so the MIOPS kit offers triggering via flash or camera. In order to get started quickly with the MIOPS Splash Water Kit follow the guide below for best results. For more information on the Splash Water Drop Kit, or to purchase head here. Or if you want to take a look at the Splash Water Drop Kit in action then check out the latest video.

Assemble the Splash kit

The MIOPS Splash Water Drop Kit is pretty easy to set up. The kit comes with the water drop machine itself, a Splash holder, and a PC sync flash cable. There are also camera cables which connect your camera body up to the Splash.

The Splash Water Drop Kit fits to a light stand via the Splash Holder supplied in the box

The Splash Water Drop Kit fits to a light stand via the Splash Holder supplied in the box

There are two ways to connect the camera to the water droplet photography kit: connecting to a flashgun and camera to trigger both simultaneously, or connecting only to the camera. The latter might be more useful if you’re using multiple flashguns, depending on how you’re triggering them.

Screw the Splash onto the holder and affix it to a light stand or tripod and make sure the Splash is sitting level. Two components make up the device itself: the control body and the water reservoir lid. Simply fill up the reservoir with water and affix the lid. Measure the height so that it rests 25cm above the surface of the water it’ll drop into.

the splash kit

For reliable results ensure the height of the Splash kit is at least 25cm above the surface of the water where the drops will fall

Lights, Camera...

Once the Splash is in place plug in your camera, and/or flashgun to the device and run the USB cable to a power source for non-stop use. I placed my Nikon D750 on a tripod and plugged in the cable.

Place two off-camera flashguns either side of the splash zone and aim them at a white backdrop. I gelled each with different colors throughout the shoot to provide vibrant, colorful backgrounds.

getting ready for water splash photography

For enhanced color tape gels over the flashguns to provide vibrant effects

On your camera it’s best to use a macro lens for close-focusing ability, but if you don’t have this you can use extension tubes, as I have, to turn a mid-to-telephoto lens into a DIY macro lens. Set the aperture to f/11 and use ISO100 with the shutter speed set to the sync speed of your flashguns, mine was 1/200 sec. I experimented with the power of the flashguns until they were giving sufficient exposure at 1/16 power each.

essentials for water drop photography

The shutter speed was set to the flash sync speed and aperture stopped down to f/16 to provide plenty of depth of field to keep the drop sharp, with ISO as low as possible to minimize noise

Synchronize with App

It’s time to synchronize the Splash water droplet photography kit with the MIOPS app. Open up the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android) and download the latest MIOPS app. Follow the instructions to install and then turn on Bluetooth to allow the app to link up with the Splash kit.

mobile app to use splash
Download the MIOPS app and turn on Bluetooth to connect to the Splash kit

From here we can control the drop size (measured in milliseconds), amount of drops, and delay of drops/camera trigger. We can also trigger the Splash kit to start taking photos. By controlling the drop size we can determine the size of the splash and subsequent reflected drop bounce. This is important because it will set up the image for a second drop release. With enough water drop rising back up out of the water, a second drop may be released to splash down onto the first, thus creating an umbrella or mushroom shape.

Timing is critical when it comes to achieving specific shapes, so be sure to check out the suggested basic settings below to get started. Do bear in mind that all cameras trigger slightly differently and at different rates so it might be useful to adjust the trigger latency within the app for your specific camera.

Getting ready for a splash

We now need some water and a way to focus the camera on the drop zone. You can use almost anything to hold the water underneath the water drop machine, such as a cup, glass, baking tray, or pot. However, I like to use two ceramic roasting trays of different sizes. This makes changing water and cleaning up so much neater, without spilling water on the table/floor.

water drop photography
Placing one tray inside the other prevents spillage onto the shooting surface and makes it easy to clean when finished

I like to place a chopstick right where the Splash kit is dropping, and let one or two fall down onto it. Then I use Live View on the camera to zoom in and manually adjust focus until everything’s tack-sharp. You could also use autofocus at this stage, but one issue with using this is that the camera may focus on the nearest side of the chopstick, which may be a few millimeters forward of where the middle part of the drop is. That’s a problem because it means that only the front section of the drop will be sharp, with the rest falling out of focus. Due to this, it’s important to zoom in on the screen and focus manually to ensure the center part is sharpest.

Experiment with the drops

Drop size is measured in milliseconds to denote the length of time the nozzle is open for, thus changing the size of the drop released. Delay is also measured in milliseconds and will determine when the second or third drops are released. The timing of the delay can affect how the following drops interact with the initial drop.

To get a good disc-shaped splash, follow the MIOPS Splash Water Kit settings below:

  • Drop 1: 25ms size
  • Drop 2: 50ms size, 80ms delay
  • Trigger: Camera, 60-65ms delay

These are the settings I used to achieve this picture.

water drop photography essentials
The best water splash from my shoot relied on specific app settings, so it’s important to experiment a lot to achieve the best results

Play with water additives

Water of different viscosities will produce varied results. You can try liquids such as milk etc, but for the most flexibility and control you could use glycerin added to water to thicken it up. This can increase the surface tension of the liquid for a different kind of water drop splash.

water drop photography
Food dyes, inks, and viscosity regulators such as glycerin can help to produce different effects on the water drops

It’s also a good idea to experiment with food dye, both in the water beneath and in the water drop machine itself. As the water drop splash rises up it can produce some incredibly unique images, and the change in color and tone stands out much more against a backlit background. It may pay to attempt drops with paint or ink, but be aware that thicker paints may clog the Splash kit nozzle, so proper cleaning is required to keep the device serviceable.

With thickening agents, you may find that the release and splash of the water changes drastically, depending on how much you put in. This, in turn, will affect the MIOPS Splash Water Kit settings, with either larger drop sizes or longer delays needed to achieve similar results with lower viscosity water.

As temperature, humidity, air movement, and release frequency change you may notice variances in results, even with the same settings dialled in. This is a fantastic way to achieve multiple unique results with the same setup, as you can keep shooting without having to change anything.

[splash]

Top tip:

When adding dyes or thickening agents to the water, make sure the water surface that the drop is splashing into is free from dirt, debris, and water bubbles. Such things will affect the glossy smoothness of the final result and make the photograph look dirty. Stray hairs or motes of dust are also quite apparent on the surface of the water after a while, so regular change of the water will help with this.

Blog Credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes

Jason Parnell-Brookes is an Internationally award-winning photographer, educator and writer. He won Gold in the Nikon Photo Contest 2018/19 and was named Digital Photographer of the Year in 2014. Jason is a qualified teacher, Masters graduate and works with many high profile international clients. Further information can be found in his website www.jasonpb.com.

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[faq q1="what is water splash photography?" a1="Water splash photography is notoriously difficult to get right, but when done correctly can produce outstandingly beautiful photographs." q2="what do you need for water drop photography?" a2="A simple way to do water drop photography is to use an eyedropper and a full cup to drop water into, but the results are unreliable and often difficult to synchronize with the camera triggering." q3="how to get ready for water drop photography?" a3="We now need some water and a way to focus the camera on the drop zone. You can use almost anything to hold the water underneath the water drop machine, such as a cup, glass, baking tray, or pot."]

Complete Guide for Capturing Breathtaking Water Drop Photographs

a water drop created with MIOPS Splash

Water droplet photography is an enjoyable technique that leads to magnificent results, but above, it's a fun process! When a water drop collides with another drop, it creates beautiful crowns and other shapes that look unique. Almost every picture is unique in the shape, texture, and color of drops colliding.

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What do you need?

  • Lighting: a minimum of one speedlight or strobe
  • A macro lens or similar alternative: to get close to those drops with a minimum focusing distance
  • Tripods: to hold your camera and the drip kit
  • Container: it is recommended to have an 8×12″ glass tray with two-inch depth
  • Backgrounds: colorful images in the background will give a powerful punch of composition
  • Quiet room: ideally, it should be darkened or consider working in a spare room, as you may need to keep your equipment up for a few days
  • Liquids and additives: to give color and different textures to the water and drop collisions, it could be milk, cream, or food coloring
  • MIOPS Splash Water Drop Kit: to control the water drops and your camera. It comes with a holder kit so you can easily fix it on a tripod.
  • Extras: A dry cloth, clamps, clips, a DIY background holder, and a remote trigger such as MIOPS Smart and RemotePlus

    a colorful drop shot using high speed photography techniques

    Setup 

    1). Place the acrylic sheet as the background, 50cm behind the water container.

    2). Place the flash(es) at least 60cm behind the acrylic.

    3). Place a tripod at the side of the setup and attach the MIOPS Splash Water Drop Kit on it.

    4). Place the water container below the MIOPS Splash and ensure that the drops fall at the center

    5). Place the camera on a tripod in front of the water container

    a blue water drop captured ina really dark studio environment

    Camera settings

    Ideally, use a low ISO, such as 100, especially when working with dark backgrounds to avoid having noise in the pictures.

    Exposition time will vary based on different things, however, shutter speeds of 1/200 or 1/250 will be a good starting point to sync with speedlights or in Bulb mode when controlling the settings with MIOPS. Sometimes, it is a good idea to consider 0.5 seconds to compensate for the delay of the flash and having the shutter open for this length of time to capture the splash. This makes it necessary to have the room dimly lit.

    Set the flashes at 1/32 power. If you are using several speedlights, you may need to lower the power to 1/64 or 1/128. The lowest power setting will give you the shortest flash duration, and your photos won't have any motion blur.

    Aperture is a tough one. I normally use f10 to f16 to get enough light yet not lose the focus on most of the splash. With a macro lens, you normally won't get the whole droplet in focus, but one remedy is to back the camera up a bit and do a small crop later in editing.

    a white water drop captured with MIOPS Splash

    MIOPS Mobile App

    In the mobile app, it is possible to control the most important settings. A proven example of correctly adjusting parameters is: Setting the first drop size to 25 milliseconds, the second drop size to 50 milliseconds, and delay to 100 milliseconds. Finally, set the trigger to 350 milliseconds and set the mode to flash.

    Focusing

    Consider using a socket wrench shaft extender for focusing aid. This way, it is possible to release a drop into the center and focus on the outside to get most of the front of the drop-in focus. This setting will vary according to every photographer's preference. Using the Live View feature enables one to zoom in up to 10 times and focus through the LCD screen.

    a blue water drop captured with MIOPS Splash

    Workflow 

    Start taking pictures, and if they are too dark, slightly start increasing the ISO or move the flashes a bit closer to the water container. Keep in mind that you should not increase the power of your flashes above 1/32; otherwise, you'll start getting motion blur. On the other hand, if the image is too bright, lower the flash power to 1/64 or 1/128 or move them back.

    Once the light is well exposed, ensure that the focus is correct, and don't forget to turn off AF. Once you gain confidence and experience, try adjusting the MIOPS Splash Water Drop Kit to change the size of the drops and the delay between them to get different results.

    [splash]

    Post-editing

    Enhancements are achieved by boosting the levels to brighten the image, cloning out a few stray drops and unsightly bubbles in the water, and adding a bit of sharpening or noise reduction.

    Remember

    Patience, perseverance, and persistence are essentials for a water drop photographer. Creativity is also necessary. Make your pictures aesthetically appealing. Be unique. Stand out. Once you get inspiration from other photographers, innovate rather than imitate. We all imitate to get started, but then make it your own.

    ea colorful water drop created using diffrent materials to change water density

    Photo Credits 

    1-Muhammed Al-Qatam

    2-Conchigarnica Fotografia

    3-Third Element photography

    4-Lars King

    5-Steve McQueen

     

    Related Article: Step by Step Guide to Water Drop Photography

    About The Author Manuel Delgado:

    Manuel Delgado is an award-winning photographer with a specialization in travel and documentary photography. He writes for Contrastly and is a Mentor for NGO Photographers Alliance, having led workshops in Africa with a focus on ethical and humanitarian photography. His work has been exhibited in Europe and the Americas.

    Driven by an innate curiosity for his surroundings, Manuel´s process is mainly focused on capturing people in their natural environment; translating through his lens the subtle threads of daily life that are shared across cultures, borders, and races. Depicting people from diverse backgrounds, his work is united by a shared aesthetic that serves to tell each individual’s story. Manuel is currently living in Düsseldorf, Germany. 

    Manuel Delgado Instagram Profile

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    [faq q1="what is water droplet photography?" a1="Water droplet photography is an enjoyable technique that leads to magnificent results, but above, it's a fun process!" q2="how Post-editing should be in water drop photography?" a2="Enhancements are achieved by boosting the levels to brighten the image, cloning out a few stray drops and unsightly bubbles in the water, and adding a bit of sharpening or noise reduction." q3="how Camera settings should be for water drop photography?" a3="Ideally, use a low ISO, such as 100, especially when working with dark backgrounds to avoid having noise in the pictures."]