Water drop photography is the most popular kind of high-speed photography. When people start doing high-speed photography, most of them try water drop photography first, because it’s easy to shoot compared to other kinds of high-speed photography. Once your setup is ready, you can create lots of different photos by changing minor settings.
So without any further delay, let’s talk about how you too can shoot amazing water drop photos.
1. Camera and lens: Any DSLR camera would work but you need a macro lens because water drops are very little in size. A 100mm Macro is the best option as you’ll have a safe distance between the camera and water drops.
2. Flashes: You need at least two flashes for this but if you have more, it would give you better control over lighting and give you stunning photographs.
3. Tripod: You need several tripods, one for the camera, one for the water drop system and others for flashes.
4. A system to release water drops: You have many options for this. You can use a water bottle and punch a tiny hole in that. In this case, you won’t have any control over drop size and the time interval between two drops.
The second option is an IV set. It gives you more control over water drop size but still, you won’t have control on time interval between drops.
The third option is a water drop photography kit like MIOPS Splash Water Drop Kit. It’s a smartphone controllable standalone water drop kit that can control not only the size and interval of drops but also trigger your camera or flash at the accurate moment.
5. Containers: You also need a container where the water drop will fall and create a beautiful splash. The best option for a container is a black glass or plexiglass tray. Size should be around 18 inches by 12 inches and two inches deep. You may also use a wine glass or ceramic cup or bowls instead of a tray.
6. Backgrounds: For background, there are many options. You may get a colorful abstract image and print it on an A4 size paper sheet. In this case, you need to put flashes at the front side. The second option is that you may use the same abstract image and print it on a transparent sheet and put the flashes at the back side. See the examples of abstract pictures below.
You can also use crumpled aluminum foil and place different color gels on flashes. Or directly fire flashes with colored gels on white paper. Just use your imagination and you’ll come up with more ideas.
Other than this you need a white plexiglass sheet to place backgrounds. A shutter release cable, some liquid soap, some clamps, L brackets, and a quiet room.
Now we have gathered everything we need, it’s time to create the setup. First place white plexiglass sheet as background using clamps. Make sure it’s at least 2 feet away from the wall so you can place flashes in case of background lighting. Now put your printed abstract image on plexiglass using clamps or tape. If you are planning back lighting, place transparent sheet print, otherwise, use paper print.
Now place two flashes at the back side of the sheet. Distance between flashes and background should be around 18-20 inches. If you are using front lighting, place both flashes at 45-degree angle in front of the background. Make sure you have covered both flashes with a plastic sheet.
Now put your water container around six inches from the background. If you are using MIOPS Splash kit, mount it on a tripod and place it on the position that water drop will fall at the center of the container. Now set your camera on a tripod and focus manually where your drop will fall. After doing everything, your setup should look like following images.
Set camera to bulb mode, ISO to 100 and aperture f/16 so we get the entire splash in focus. Now turn on both flashes and set power to 1/64. If you are using IV set, you need to fix the drop size using the knob. If you are using MIOPS Splash here are the settings.
First drop size: 25 milliseconds
Seconds drop size: 50 milliseconds and Delay: 100 milliseconds
Trigger delay: 350 milliseconds Mode: Flash
These settings are just starting point and you need to fine tune it according to your setup. If your MIOPS Splash is too high or low you need to adjust the second drop delay time. This setting will work around 2 feet distance between water nozzle and container.
Now everything is set and we need to do some fine tuning. First, we’ll check lighting and then water drop settings. Take a shot and check the lighting. If it’s overexposed, lower the flash power or move them further. If it’s underexposed, increase flash power or move them closer. Never increase the flash power to above 1/32 power or you’ll start getting motion blur. If your picture is underexposed even at 1/32 power, increase ISO to 200 or whatever value required.
When lighting is perfect, fine-tune the MIOPS Splash settings. If your flash is firing early or late, you need to change trigger delay settings. If your second drop is not colliding with the first drop, you need to change the delay of settings of the second drop. Size of the drop will also give you different results.
Remember one thing that always change only one setting at a time and take a test shot. If you change all settings together, you’ll get confused and couldn’t understand that what setting is causing the changes and will never get your desired shot.
Once everything is set up, create different masterpieces by changing the background, light settings, and MIOPS Splash settings. If you want to take some extraordinary shots, add a few drops of liquid soap in water.
One thing I want to suggest you that keep this setup for a few days and do different experiments. After 2-3 days you’ll start getting new ideas. So, let’s start and share your pictures here.
Related Article: 9 Tips for Choosing the Best Water Drop Photography Kit
About the Author
Ramakant Sharda is an author, iOS App publisher, passionate photographer and a MIOPS Ambassador based in the beautiful “Pink City” of India, known as Jaipur. His work has been published in various magazines, newspapers, and blogs. He has published three Coffee Table Books, he writes about photography and also teaches photography in his workshops. Check out his website http://ClickManic.com to see the masterpieces created by him or download his free app for iPhone and iPad “30 Days to an Ace Photographer“.