Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tips to Create Amazing Water Drop Photographs

Tips to Create Amazing Water Drop Photographs

Ever see those amazing shots of water splashing up, frozen in mid air with awesome colours and shapes?  Well, now you can create your own series with these water drop photography special effects.  They are fairly easy to follow and simple enough to setup.  Read on and learn how do them as well.


Required Equipment (as least how I did it)

As with almost anything in photography, you will need to ensure you have the correct gear to do this.  While there are probably a few (if not several) different ways to do the same trick, I am showing you one way.  It will hopefully give you enough ideas try different approaches.

* DLSR camera – you want a camera that has manual settings; the ability to use a remote trigger is key for how I do these shots.  I used my Canon 40D
* A long lens – I used a lens with a 200mm focal length (Canon 70-300 L F4), but use the longest one you have.  You will also want a lens with manual focus capability.
* Extension tubes – only if your lens is not a macro lens, you should consider buying some extension tubes.  They are circular tubes (with no glass) that is placed between your camera and lens.  This allows the lens to focus closer and on smaller objects.
* Tripod – a stable tripod is essential capturing extreme close up shots.   Use what you have, but a heavy, sturdy one will be more stable
* Off Camera Flash – proper lighting is important in all photography, and this is especially true for water photography.
* Flash cord/trigger – Besides an off camera flash, you want to be able use it remotely (unless you have a very, very bright location, but flash works better).  With many Nikon cameras they have built in ability to remotely trigger some of their flashes.  With Canon cameras, you have to buy a Canon trigger (or a trigger from another manufacturer – I bought an inexpensive Chinese made one for under $100 on eBay and it works well with by Canon EX580 II flash).  You can also use a flash cord that does the same thing and is much cheaper.  Make sure you have a long enough one and that the connectors are the correct fit for your camera.
* Remote trigger (optional) – I prefer to use a remote trigger to fire the camera and flash.  The reason is that I can control the exact moment for the shot without having any camera shake.  You can use the timer function as well, but this will be more difficult.

For those eager to leave more photography special effects, click here to learn from a master.

Items you will need for the setup are:

* A wide bowl/pan – to hold the water that we will be focusing on and creating drops in.
* White Bristol board/poster board – I use this behind the water bowl (opposite side of the camera) to bounce the flash off of so we create a nice diffused indirect light.
* Plastic cup – why a plastic cup you ask?  Simple.  I use this to create the water drops.  More to come on that.
* Pin – to create a hole in the plastic cup
* Paper towels – you will make a mess (of water)


The Setup

The basic setup is simple to follow.  This should note take you long before you start taking great photographs of water drops.

* Place the bowl on a table, fill with water (perhaps put a paper towel underneath if you want to protect from splashing)
* Set the camera on the tripod beside the table and compose the shot to be the center of the bowl.  I recommend you play with the angle of the camera to the water.  I found the most success with the camera above the bowl (by about 18 inches) and aim down at your focal point.
* Manually focus the lens.  You want auto focus off as you down what the delay of the camera and lens trying to refocus each time you take a shot.
* Prop the white board on the table behind the bowl (opposite side of the camera).  Place it about 6-12 inches back.
* Place the flash (off the camera) to the back right or back left of the bowl, and aim it at the center of the white cardboard.  When the flash bounces of the cardboard, you will get the nice diffused light hitting the scene.

How to Execute the Shot

Once you have all the items in place above, here is what you want to do.

* Poke a small hole in the bottom of the plastic cup
* Pour some water in and hold it above the center of the bowl
* Ensure you get some water drops coming out and dripping into the bowl.  If no drops come out, you may need to widen the hole a bit.
* Once you have drops coming out (hopefully a slow, rhythmic cycle), you are ready to take some photos.
* Each time a drop comes out and is about to hit the water, press the remote shutter release.  You will need to play with timing of when you press the shutter release to get a great shot.


Some Final Photography Tips for Water Drops

As with any technique, there is room for you to play and experiment to try something new and exciting to get fantastic results.

Shutter Speed – play with how fast the shutter goes to see if you can get a different effect when capturing the motion
Poster Board Colour and Flash Gels – alter these to create a different colour effect on the water.
Vary the Bowl – different bowls (glass, metal, wood, colour and size, etc) will have a different effect on the photo.  Experiment and see what happens!
Image Under a Glass Pan – some people have been known to use a flat, glass pan and will put a photo underneath to try and get the image in the water.  Also, you can have a photo on the poster board and try to have image reflect in the drop.

Learning about photography is never ending.  You can learn more creative photography tips by the book written by the master, Evan Sharboneau, by clicking here.

To learn other tips, try


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