Challenge #1: Consistent Drop in the Same SpotIt is important to get the droplet to always drop into the same spot in the water as this is the point of focus for a sharp picture. In order to do, I secured a plastic dropper (note: bought from Art Friend - bunch of 10 at around S$3) using masking tape to a crossbar tripod.
Once the dropper is secured, I lower the crossbar tripod until the dropper touches the water surface. Then, I set my lens to automatically focus on the point where the dropper touches the water surface (i.e. assuming also the point where the water droplet will enter the water), and switch back to manual focus when done.
The challenge comes during the actual shooting, as water droplet does not seem to be always dropping into the same location. As the air around me is still, I could only explained the inconsistency due to the squeezing action of the dropper that cause slight movement.
To account for such inconsistency, I find that setting a small aperture (F20 and above) would produce a better picture with reasonable sharp details.
Challenge #2: Timing Between Drops and Triggering ShotsShots should not be trigger immediately when the water droplet leaves the dropper, as it will need time to travel and hit the water surface. A short pause is needed in order to capture the splash.
There are many stages of the splashes as seen in some of the pictures below and practice is needed to get the right timing.
Challenge #3: Composition - Angle of Water Droplet SplashHow do you want the composition of the water droplet splash to be captured? Do you want the water ripples to be the "background" of your picture? Do you want to capture it from an angle that is more parallel to the ground (e.g. see 1st image above) OR from a more elevated angle (e.g. see image below).
This following picture shows a shot taken at about 45 degree angle from the water surface using the water ripples as background. While a small container/tray is required, it does not really bring out the splash effect.
This following picture shows a shot taken at about 10-15 degree angle from the water surface with a black backdrop using a small container/tray. At this angle, it can clearly capture the splash effect.
Challenge #4: Height of Drop and Water Determines the SplashBoth the height of the water in the container/tray and the height from which the water droplet is dropped will determine how "spectacular" the splash will be.
Height of Water Level in Container
In my experiment, I had filled water containers with various height from 2cm to about 10cm. Based on my observation, I noticed that if the water container is fill with a higher water level, the stages of the splash are simpler i.e. may not get pictures such as a ball of droplet splitting away from the stem of water that sprout out from the splash.
Height that Water Droplet is Dropped From
I'd also experimented with water droplet dropping from a height of 30cm to 100cm above the water surface. I observed that the higher the water droplet is dropped from the more "spectacular" the splash will be.
Note: I felt that the size of the water droplet does matter as well, but I did not have a chance to play with it as I only have dropper of a single size.
Setup and EquipmentThe following are basic equipment that I'd used for the water droplet photography:
- EOS 5DM2 + EF100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM (note: both on a tripod)
- Off-camera Flash/Strobe + Color gel
- Transmitter and/or Receiver (i.e. for triggering the strobe or off-camera flash)
- White/black cardboard (note: for background and serve as reflector)
- Dropper + Crossbar Tripod (i.e. for holding the dropper)
- Water container/tray of various sizes
- Water and/or milk (note: you can either try the water droplet splash using water or milk)
What are the other fun that you can try out?
- I'd came across articles on the Internet that uses food coloring on milk and it produces very impressive result.
- Try capturing the collision of multiple water droplets. I'd tried many times but was unable to achieve it.
- Also try water droplet splashes on objects such as a spoon.
Please visit http://jefzlim.smugmug.com/Studio-Works/Water-Droplets/ for more photos ...