Learn to Capture A Water Drop - The Cheap Way
By Jacob Grant
8 Jul 2008
The only thing that surprised me more than all the people who were intrigued by the simple photograph of the water drop I captured, were the so called "professional photographers" who supposedly told some of these people that such a capture wasn't possible without special studio equipment.
No, you don't need studio lighting. No, you don't need a motion-activated sensor in your camera. Nor do you really need a macro lens - but that's up to you. You can whip up your own equipment to capture a drop of water falling, splashing, dripping, splattering, or whatevering with the basic hardware that is most likely lying around your house.
The trick is to get plenty of light for the shutter speed you need to shoot at, which is most-likely 1/1000 of a second or faster. I captured the photos seen here by using three 120WT light bulbs, one 60WT colored bulb, a tripod and my camera's 35-55mm lens. The colored bulb was only to provide some backlighting to help silhouette the water drops, but it isn't necessary if that's not the style you want.
Believe it or not I found that a wet paint brush provided the best water drops. With my camera on rapid-shutter mode, I would soak the brush and slowly lift it up above the water. When the water trailing off the brush turned into drops, I'd activate the shutter and take a sequence of about 10 shots. If I didn't get anything satisfactory, I'd do it again... and again... and again. I'll admit, it took some patience, but if you can't afford the sophistacted equipment, it's better than nothing.
Results were best when the lights were situated behind the water, pointing at the camera, and with the water deep enough to create a decent splash. Maybe you'll think otherwise. Experiment by moving the lights around. Use a silver pie plate as a reflector; add some paint; maybe another light or two; less water. I dare you!
Be advised though, if you intend to do this type of work commercially, you will probably need higher end equipment in order to capture the quality of image your client needs. This article was simply to illustrate how you can capture such an image for your own enjoyment - and also to stick it to those snobby "professionals."
"He who says it cannot be done is always interrupted by the one who just did it." - Chinese Proverb
Click here to see the accompanying YouTube video on how to capture a drop of water: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFkzqBfND4w