Shoot Your Own Amazing Water Drop Photography
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Welcome to the world of water drop photography. In this photography tutorial we show you how to capture water drops using a basic set up and a more complex setup using the SplashArt 2 dropper system.
I first started shooting water drop photography a few years ago when I noticed a few popping up on Flickr. It is an exciting area of macro photography and I was instantly struck by these amazing moments of nature that we see so often in our lives but never have the chance to study. Fascinated, I decided to see what it took to capture these images and I felt I could produce something original using my own lighting ideas and composition.
Having set up, using something very close to the basic setting featured in the video, my first capture of a water drop was extremely satisfying. I was instantly hooked. I quickly upgraded my equipment and bought the SplashArt 2 kit so I could produce and capture water drop collisions repeatedly. Once in the arsenal it left me more time to play with my lighting setup, composition and drop consistency. In water drop photography changing the consistency of the liquid has a direct result on the final image. Milk is slightly thicker so behaves differently and the different surface tension produces different looking drops. I eventually took this to an extreme adding Xanthan Gum to my liquid. This thickens and smooths the liquid to the point where the final drops have a crystal like appearance.
Understanding the theory of water drop photography is key to giving you the ability to fully explore the creative possibilities. Normally we freeze action by increasing shutter speed and this works perfectly in most conditions. However in water drop photography the action is frozen with the flash. When using flash to light a scene the shutter speed is limited by the flash sync speed of your camera. On most DSLR’s this limits you to about 1/200th or 1/250th second which is not quick enough to freeze a water drop. The flash burst is much faster than this so exposes the scene so quickly that it freezes the action. Further, Speedlite flash guns discharge their light faster at lower powers so the lower the power you can manage to use the better your image will be frozen.
After some experimentation I settled on using 1/32 flash power. The shutter speed does not really matter but I set it at 1/200 to avoid any ambient light sneaking into the image. Aperture needs to be as high as possible to ensure all the drop is in sharp focus but needs to be balanced with ISO to obtain a well exposed image that is not too noisy. The majority of my shots have used f/11 and an ISO of around 400.
Hopefully this will arm you with the skills and knowledge required to start shooting your own images. To move things on further you can add extra flash guns and multiple droppers to ensure that every image will be unique.