Belonging to a 52 week project group on Flickr, I have different weekly challenges to complete. The challenges throw up interesting topics including pictures of water droplets. During lockdown I did become efficient at oil and water photography but attempts at taking pictures of water droplets splashing from a great height were less than satisfactory. With the water droplet challenge, I decided to revisit this technique rather than the straightforward approach of water droplets on surfaces. The aim of this blog is to provide some tips on how to do this at home.
Setting up – I quickly learnt from watching YouTube tutorials that this is key to your success when photographing droplets. One of the best purchases I have made was a wireless off-flash unit which has added much needed flexibility. Having such a unit is a necessity for a water droplet project. In addition, I also needed to drip the water from on high. I searched on the Internet and hunted around the local supermarkets. Luckily my oldest daughter, Katie, found a hard plastic jug with a small tap placed towards the bottom of the jar. Perfect for making drops!
Then causing chaos with the family, I took over the kitchen. Buckets of water, step ladders, pints of milk and food colourants were all assembled on the kitchen table. The pictures show the various components that were used. The water jar was placed on the top of a step ladder with the water buckets underneath. My camera (Canon 5D mkIV) and EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM are on a tripod. The off camera flash is set up to fire at 1/32 which I learnt from a YouTube tutorials, was a good starting point to freeze the droplets. During my last attempts in lock down did not have all the bubble droplets in focus and so a small aperture was selected. I started with f/11and did increase to f/22 for some pictures.
The milk (blue top for thickness) was placed in a dish. To help with the focusing I used a Lego pirate figure which was placed under where the drip hit the milk. Now I was all ready to go and it was very much trial and error. I had a remote to activate the camera and this allowed me to also control the tap. If you wish to get even more serious then there are special timed drop release mechanisms, but I just went for the manual option. Experimentation with the food dye was not as successful and needs more practice. All the pictures were in focus and looked satisfactory on the camera screen. Around 60 pictures were taken and then it was all about the editing.
Editing was in Adobe Lightroom. I played with the colour sliders to bring out the red, blue and green colours. One of my earlier attempts looked quite spectacular as an upcoming primary droplet hit a new one. It produced a water halo effect. I was pleased with this. In my best other pictures, there was a droplet crown and a symmetrical water droplet. I was rushed as the Sunday dinner needed to be prepared and the kitchen chaos had to be cleared away. I have written this all up so that I know what to do next time. I strongly recommend trying it out as if you have a good macro lens and off-camera flash then the other essentials are relatively inexpensive. If you found this account useful then let me know and have fun taking photographs.