The Ultimate Guide to Water Drop Photography
Have you browsed through hundreds of water droplet photos on a stock image website and wondered, “How did they do that?”
Well, you’re not alone because water drop photography is a class of its own. It takes patience, perseverance and determination to capture the droplets at the right moment. But a lot of the magic that goes on is actually due to the type of tools you use.
These images are shot in studios, using electrically programmed eyedroppers, and motion triggers that energize the camera at the right split second. These help the photographer freeze the image at the right moment.
Fortunately, you don’t need such fancy equipment to start practicing water photography. While these tools are necessary, you can shoot water drops with a camera and an external flash!
The best thing about water drop photography is that it lets you experiment with techniques you won’t normally apply. So what do you need to get started?
Other than a camera and lens, you’ll need an off-camera flash, along with dedicated cable extension, or a wireless trigger. A flash with HSS (High Speed Sync) will help you adjust your shutter speed (above 1/250th) to help freeze the image properly.
You can also use a shutter cable release to start your camera without manually starting it. You will also need a wet sponge or an eyedropper. Sponges create bigger droplets. You will also need a system to hold these in place.
Since you’ll be using water and electronics, it’s always a good idea to take safety measurements. The first step you can take is wrapping your equipment in cellphone wrap. This will help protect them from any liquid spilling on them.
Working with the Lighting
What makes working with water tricky is that it’s a specular/reflecting surface. This means that if you light the water, it won’t work. So instead light what the water reflects. You can use a white cardboard to bounce the light to reflect its surface.
Set the exposure to ISO 2000, 1/8000, f/11. The f/11 aperture will help you find some depth in the field, and the use of 1/8000 shutter speed, combined with a full-flash HSS, helps freeze the image. You can experiment with different shutter speeds to get different results.
To create a nice, colorful effect, use color gels.
Unfortunately, the timing is the tricky part. It’s impossible to be able to capture the right moment at the right time. But when you keep practicing, you’ll get the hang of it! But using these tips, even random shots will turn out to be just as good!