A couple of weeks ago, my wife asked me if I can photograph water drops for the cover of her Ph.D. thesis. First, I thought it might be very difficult without a proper equipment. After reading a couple of articles about photographing water drops I decided to give it a try.
There are also lots of electronic circuits and expensive gadgets on the market for high speed photography. Some of them claim that it is extremely difficult or even impossible to achieve this kind of high speed photography with standard photographic equipment. How difficult do you think it could be to photography water drops without an electronic devices?
After a long preparation I set up a small home made studio. The picture on the left shows the setup that I have used to photograph water drops. As you can see the setup is very basic. The water in the square glass tray is colored with black ink to minimize the reflections of the glass. The orange thing on the cap of the plastic bottle is a thin plastic tube from which the droplets fall at a consistent rate. Good lighting is one of the essential things. I have used two flashes to illuminate the water surface, one on the camera and one behind the blue transparent film.
It is very important to mount the camera on a sturdy tripod to prevent camera movements. Although, I don’t have a macro lens, a macro lens will probably result in better photographs of water drops.
You also need to turn off AF (Auto Focus) on the lens and set the camera to manual mode. As a target for focusing, I placed a bar code (from a milk carton) in the drop’s path. I set the aperture to f/8 for enough depth of field, the exposure to 1/640 of a second and the ISO speed to 400.
I must say that it requires patience and a lot of practice to get the right shot. You may need to shoot hundreds of photographs to get a few good ones that you will like.
If you have any other techniques about how to photograph water drops that you’d like to share, feel free to leave your comments. I’d love to learn more about photographing water drops.