Thursday, July 16, 2009

Capturing Water Droplets

It rained like heck last week. I noticed the water pooling on the glass table in my back yard, and thought it would be cool to try and capture those water droplets. So I set up near the back window and tried all sorts of angles, and took a gajillion exposures. They all sucked. Every single one. To the point where I won't even bother showing you any of them. Too embarrassing.

So it got me wondering how to do those awesome drops-of-water-falling-into-a-pool shots that I see all over the place. I remember seeing in one of the Facebook groups I frequent a link to a tutorial to do this.

Here it is:

The setup part is pretty straightforward, once you find somewhere to hang your bag of water from. I used my dining room chandelier and set up everything else underneath.

Here are a few of what I ended up with. As always, click for larger images and more examples in the study:

Some gotchas:

The amount of water you put in the hanging bag directly affects the stream of drops coming out of the bag. In my case, when I pierced the bag, a steady stream of water shot out sideways, creating a bit of an emergency, and I had to quickly find a way to contain the mess that was quickly accumulating in my dining room. Lesson learned, just put a _LITTLE_ bit of water in the hanging bag.

If you own a macro lens with a long focal length, definitely use it. Water splashes all over your lens if it's even remotely close. I don't happen to have such a lens, so I stopped frequently to clean up. The other main drawback is that I ended up cropping the heck out of my shots to make them look a lot closer than they really were. I lost a lot of precious pixels.

If you have a remote shutter release, use it. It allows you to concentrate on the falling water droplets without having to look through the lens all the time.

The closer your flash is to the reflecting surface, the more contrast you'll get in the water. I started with my flash about as far away from the card as the camera, and the light was spilling out onto the water directly instead of being reflected. The shots get more dramatic if most of the light hitting your scene is reflected instead of direct.

Using coloured paper to change the scene is cool, but somewhat limiting. I found it was easier and more fun to apply colour in post processing to a neutral black and white scene. Takes a bit more time, but otherwise, after a while all of the shots start to look the same. Mixing it up with various applications of colour creates variety.

Till next time, happy shooting!
- jc

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