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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Related Article: Step by Step Guide to Water Drop Photography
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.