How to take water droplet shots

Starting on Sunday my Project365 blog will be featuring a series of water droplet shots. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do since I first saw them and I finally got around to doing it yesterday.

Having spent most of yesterday avoiding the royal wedding by taking the pictures then picking out, cropping and watermarking the best shots for the blog, I thought it might be useful to put up a little piece about how they were taken.  I’m also adding some of the ones that didn’t quite make the cut.

So let’s start with the equipment I used for this little project:

Besides the obvious camera with remote shutter set on a tripod, I used the glass lid of a casserole dish into which I poured around a centimetre of water.  I added a shot of blue food colouring to the water.


I switched the camera to manual and stood the dispenser in the water for something to focus on.  After focusing, I set the f-stop to 5.6, the ISO to 200 and the exposure to 1/160.  After tightening everything on the tripod, then double-checking the focus I was ready to rock’n’roll!

I used a children’s medicine dispenser to ‘drop’ the water – it has a 3 or 4mm diameter hole that is big enough to create a splash but not so big that it splashes all over the camera lens!

When I was ready I took the first round of shots. I started out using just plain water until I’d had a few goes.

It’s very much trial-and-error so don’t expect to get fantastic photos straight away – in fact 85% of my first batch of 30-odd pictures were of flat water where I pressed the shutter too early!  Another 10% were out-of-focus because the drops didn’t land in the vicinity of the area I had focused on. Basically I had one semi-decent shot (below), and that was only because I liked the colours!

The second and third goes went pretty much the same way but on the fourth attempt I started getting a bit more accurate with the dropping and got some fairly good shots (2 shown below – click for large version).

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I decided I was ready to add some colouring to the droplets, hence the reason for the ‘normal’ water for the first few attempts – it saved ruining the blue colour!  I added a red food colouring to the water in the jug, gave it a quick mix around and away I went.

I think the red and blue created a really nice mix of colours.

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I saved the best ones for the Project365 but I think these are pretty close seconds.

If you’re going to attempt this be prepared for a lot of missed shots.  I’m going to try again when I get the chance, but this time instead of using the flash I’m going to try using an alternate light source and have the camera on multi-shot setting. Hopefully that will provide more chance of getting better shots of the water dropping as well as hitting the water.

If you want to see more I’ve put some up on my Flickr stream, and don’t forget to check out the Project365 from Sunday.

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