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Powerful Water Drop Photography Tips and Techniques

Powerful Water Drop Photography Tips and Techniques

Water drop photography is an exciting genre of high-speed photography. Every creative photographer wishes to click stunning water drop collision photos. When a water drop collides with another drop, it creates beautiful crowns, and clicking them is a fantastic experience for a photographer.

A few years back, taking such shots was not easy, and only a few expert photographers could click those photos. But with the technology now, it’s become more accessible, and everyone can add these mesmerizing photos to their portfolio. Nowadays, we have gadgets such as MIOPS Splash, which can make water drop photography a child’s play.

So, let’s talk about how you can take thousands of incredible water drop photos by creating the setup once.

What you need:

A Spare Room: The first requirement is a spare room because we’ll create a setup and keep it for a few days. As I told you earlier, you can use the same setup to click lots of pictures. We will be using bulb mode of the camera, so make sure you can darken this room.

Camera and Lens: Any DSLR or Mirrorless camera works fine for this, but choose a lens with a longer focal length so your camera is safe from water splashes. A 100mm macro lens is the best choice for this type of photography.

Flashes: You’ll need a minimum of two flashes for this photography. If you have more, it would be great. The best flashes for water drop photography is the one that is powerful (guide number 50 or above), is adjustable from full power to 1/128 power in 1/3 stops increments, has fast recycling time, can be used with slave mode, and has a swivel and tilt head. Zoom head is also helpful for water drop photography.

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Tripod and Light Stand: You need a tripod to fix the camera and some light stands or tripods for flashes. You need one sturdier tripod to place the water drop controller (we are talking about it soon). 

Shutter Release Cable or Remote: It’s not essential, but you can control your camera from some distance if you have it.

Water Containers: You need a glass dish which you can easily find in your kitchen. Just make sure that it’s bigger, so it’s not shown in the picture, and it should be at least two inches in depth. If you want to show the water container in the picture, you may use a wine glass or a beautiful ceramic bowl or cup instead of a glass dish.

Backgrounds: You need colorful images to place as a background. Search google for “blur abstract background,” and you will know what type of images you need. You can buy such photos from stock sites or get them from free stock images sites. After getting images, print them on thick paper or transparencies.

Water Drop Controller: If you want to easily take hundreds of different photographs, you need to invest in a water drop controller kit like MIOPS Splash. It can control the size and timing of water drops and also control your camera or flashes precisely. This intelligent gadget can even release four water drops one by one and create unimaginable splashes. This little investment will save you tons of time and effort, and your pictures will be different from the rest.

You need a few more things like a piece of Plexiglass (milky white acrylic sheet) to fix backgrounds (around 12 x 18 inches), something to hold the acrylic sheet, some dry cloth, and clamp clips.

Setup:

Now we have everything we require, let’s create the setup. The first thing to remember is to create the setup on a table. You need to work for a long time, and if you make the setup on the floor or in a way so that you need to bend over and over again, you will get tired quickly and would not be able to do it for a long time.

First, place the camera on a tripod. It should be 10-15 degrees downward. Place the glass dish in front of it. If you have a 100mm lens, the distance should be 36-40 inches from the camera. If you are using a rectangle glass dish, make sure that the longer side is parallel to the camera so the edges of the container won’t show in the picture.

Now place the Plexiglass around 8-10 inches below the edge of the glass bowl. We’ll set abstract backgrounds on this Plexiglass.

It’s time to set up the flashes. If you have paper prints, flashes will be placed between the camera and background at a 45-degree angle. In this case, make sure you cover the flashes with a plastic sheet. If you are using transparencies, flashes will be placed at the backside facing the Plexiglass, and the distance should be around 12 inches.

Finally, set up the MIOPS Splash on a tripod so that the water drop falls at the center of the glass dish. Attach one flash to the MIOPS Splash and make the other one slave, so it fires automatically when the first one fires. See the below setup images to understand everything. 

Camera, Flash and Controller Settings:

At this moment, you may want to take some rest and have a coffee. Go ahead and enjoy your coffee because this part is a little bit technical and requires your full attention. But if you are like me, you are probably dying to see your first masterpiece.

Okay, let’s do all the settings. First set both flashes on 1/32 power. If you are using four flashes, you need to select the power to 1/64 or 1/128. Now do the camera settings, set it on bulb mode, set aperture to f/16, and ISO to 100. We’ll use manual focus, so change focus mode to manual, place a pencil at the center of the glass dish where the drop will fall, and focus on it.

Now darken the room and keep it a little bit light so you can see the setup. Press the shutter for 1/5 or 1/10 seconds and see the picture. If everything is dark in the image, you are good to go.

Now let’s do MIOPS Splash settings. It will release two drops in a time interval and then fire the flash, so you need to set the size of the first and second drop, the time interval between both drops, and the flash firing time after releasing the second drop. You can set everything easily using the MIOPS mobile app.

Open the app and set the size of the first drop to 25 milliseconds, the size of the second drop to 50 milliseconds, the delay between both drops to 100 milliseconds, and trigger to 350 milliseconds. Also, set trigger mode to flash.

These settings are not final, it’s just a starting point. For these settings, the height of the nozzle of MIOPS Splash is around two feet. If your nozzle is higher or lower than this, you need to change delay and trigger settings accordingly. 

Workflow:

Now we need to check if everything is okay. Darken the room, turn on the flashes, press the drop release button of MIOPS Splash, and keep your eye on the glass dish. If a crown is forming and the flashes are firing at the same time, MIOPS settings are okay. If not, turn on the lights and press the switch again.

If a crown is forming, but flashes are not firing at the same time, adjust the trigger setting to 5 milliseconds interval. You need to determine if flashes are firing earlier or later and increase or decrease the trigger time accordingly. If a crown is not created, adjust the delay between both drops to 2-3 milliseconds interval. Check it with the flashes on, and if you see the second drop in the mid-air, it means you need to decrease the time between both drops. 

Now, darken the room again, switch on the camera, press the shutter release button, and press the MIOPS button. Release the shutter button as soon as the flashes are fired. Now check the image. If it’s darker, the move flashes a little bit closer to the Plexiglass. You may also increase the ISO. If it’s overexposed, move the flashes further. Check the focus too. If it’s not proper, focus again.

By now, you are ready to take shots. Now the workflow would be:

  1. Press the shutter button
  2. Press the water drop release button immediately
  3. Release the shutter button as soon as the flashes are fired

Now you need to do experiments to get different shots. Changes in delay time will give you another type of crown shape. Increasing the size of water drops will give you different results, and you need to change the trigger time according to the changes you made. Whatever you do, keep in mind to change only one setting at a time. Otherwise, you’ll be confused and couldn’t understand what changes in settings are impacting the picture. It’s advisable to keep a notebook and write down what changes you made and their impact.

The second experiment you can do with the background. Both front and back flashes will give you different results, so try both techniques. Make a lot of prints and use other backgrounds like aluminum foil or packing paper. If you add a few drops of liquid soap to the water, you will get totally different crowns.

With this setup, you can click thousands of different photographs. So, let’s begin and share your masterpieces with the world.

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Blog Credit: Ramakant Sharda

Ramakant is an Award-Winning Photographer, Author, Mobile Apps Publisher based in the beautiful “Pink City” of India, known as Jaipur. Many of his works have been published in magazines, newspapers, and international blogs. He writes about photography and also teaches photography in his workshops. He has published three (so far) coffee table books. Get his latest book Mastering High-Speed Photography.

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.

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.

    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

    5 Suggestions for Photographers to Do Indoors

    5 Suggestions for Photographers to Do Indoors

    We know that 95% of the photographers would like to be outside, so staying at home can be a bit inconvenient at times for you. We think that this is the time to invest in yourself and do the things you wanted to do for so long while being at home!

    So we have gathered up 5 suggestions that you might be able to do indoors, to spend some quality time with yourself!

    1) Watch Lightroom or Photoshop tutorials online.

    Staying indoors could be the perfect opportunity to enhance your software skills. Just open up Youtube and go to your favorite photographer's channel for some tips to get even better in Lightroom and Photoshop. 

     

    2) Photograph indoors.

    Although this does not seem sensible at first, there are actually a lot of things to photograph at home. You can start with your favorite home decor objects and take a photo of them with intense bokeh in the background. Or you can simply take astonishing water drop photos using MIOPS Splash unit.

    3) Use social media to video chat with friends and family.

    We know that it is hard not being able to see friends and family as much as before. So get in touch with your loved ones through video chatting applications as social distance increases it's importance day by day.

     

    4) Meditate.

    We are all going through stressful times sometimes so there is no harm in staying in,making a cup of tea for yourself and meditating to ease your mind off.

    5) Watch the movies and TV Shows you missed.

    You have been wanting to watch a film or a show from your list but you couldn't find time before. Now is the time to relax,lay down for a second and hit the play button to watch your favorite shows.

    BONUS: Be a part of an Interactive Social Media Challenge or Campaign

    To keep you and your loved ones entertained, simply join a social media campaign with getting in interaction with your love brands, for instance sharing MIOPS Moment photographs to be featured on MIOPS Trigger Profile!

    Related Article: Water Drop Photography Explore Site