So with the COVID-19 restrictions in place local walks have produced some interesting images but I am really missing the weekly challenge of photographing Rugby. Its not been a whole season yet since I started and it looks like the rest of this season is cancelled so I will have to wait a little for that challenge to come back.

However, a friend Ewen Rankin, over at a professional photographer laid down the challenge last week. Starting with some amazing colourful macro images of bubbles, then water droplets falling and splashing in a bowl. I have to say bubbles are still a nut I have to crack but water droplets falling and capturing their impact has got me well and truly hooked.

An old bottle with a tap, slatted box, saucer and coloured paper and it all started. Lighting is important here so the flash remotely triggered with a piece of white paper to help diffuse the light avoiding reflections in the drops too. I used a second fixed light just to fill in some more and even out the light since I only have one flash. Initially I use a black piece of paper for the background.

Adding water to the saucer and a little milk, then red food colouring to the water dropping. I thought just turn the tap and click but not so fast! Focus, yes focus. I had to manually set the focus on the distance where the drip would strike the water/milk mix. Placing the end of a pen at the point the drip hit the liquid then focusing on that helped. So with the camera set it was time to go. Adjust the tap to drip slowly about 1 drip every 5 seconds and try to guess when to press the shutter, taking 3-5 images in sequence with mixed results. From nothing to water drops in the air and a round drop appearing to rest on top of a pin like water jet.

This was however just the beginning and a steep learning curve. Changing for a red piece of paper stood just beyond the saucer it was time to step it up. The aim to achieve 2 water drops colliding. As the first rose back up out the water as in the pictures above trying to get the second to strike it and capture the moment was the challenge.

With a little focus correction and adjustment of the drip timing, about 1 every 0.5s and a lot of missed images that was achieved. Stopping and starting the drip is helpful as the goal is to get a perfect reflection in the white liquid.

I have to say the next 2 were my favourites. All these were achieved without a device to automate the triggering of the camera or control the drip timing. Yes there are devices you can buy but the whole idea was to use what you had and I think you will agree the results are quiet good. Time consuming but well worth it.

The gear:- Nikon D750, 24-70 f2.8 on a K & F concept tripod with Manfrotto MHXPRO 3W head, Godox 860IIN with X1T remote trigger. Manfrotto pixi Evo mounted with Godox led64. Various white and colored paper.

3 Replies to “Droplet Photography a Different Angle.”

  1. There are some excellent pictures there. I can see you need a good stand to help with the set up. Also to invest in a good drip bottle. I will have to do both after the Lockdown. Thanks for sharing

    1. You would be surprised what you have around you could use to produce the drip. The stand could be as simple as a box with white paper on the inside to aid reflecting light on the drip.

  2. Thanks for sharing this with us. Some lovely pictures 🙂
    Something else for you to explore:
    – take the picture in total darkness (0 ambient)
    – set shutter speed to 30 seconds
    – trigger the flash manually (your remote looks like it can do this)
    This can help you get a better grasp on the way flash interacts with exposure.
    You exposed your pictures at 1/60th which is not short enough to freeze a moving drop, BUT the flash itself has a duration of around 1/8’000th (depending on poser setting) effectively freezing the subject. The lamp on the right may be creating a blur as that part is captured at 1/60th.
    Using this allows you to freeze even faster moving subjects and with a bit of aluminium you could even create a mechanical trigger for your flash. Have fun and keep the pictures coming!

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