How to Photography: Water Drop Collision

Water drop collisions are one of those things that I tried, and just absolutely freaked out in love over! They are so much fun, and even though they are a lot of work, it’s definitely a photographer’s adrenaline rush when you finally get those two water drops to collide or crash into each other!

Prepare a few hours for this, especially if you want them to crash together. This is hard! But definitely a blast to try, and something different than most photographers.

First, watch this quick video on some of the basics. It helps to see what is going on. If you want more detailed tips, keep reading below the video!

Setup

  • Attach some macro filters or macro tubes onto your camera. I prefer tubes because the filters will make the edges of your photo blurry, but both work fine!
  • Set your camera up on your tripod. You need a tripod! It’s important to be stable, once you get your camera in the sweet spot, you won’t want to move it!
  • Set up your speed light and trigger, make sure it’s working.
  • Get a colored background! This is easy, because it can be anything! I’ve used everything from a colored piece of paper ripped apart and put back together, to a colored pillow. Point the speed light at this background of your choice.
  • Grab a casserole dish and fill it almost to the top with water. Lay a piece of tin foil down, and place the dish on top of it. This will help it to be more reflective and catch the color of whatever background you chose.
  • Cut a small slit (you may have to try a few different times to get it right, like I do haha) in a ziploc bag, and hang it above your pan so it drips right onto the edge of the water in the pan. You don’t want it to drip in the middle because then your camera has a hard time reaching it or getting close enough.
  • prepare paper towels, lens cleaners, a chair, maybe some snacks… it’s gonna be a long wet ride!

Settings

  • Shutter Speed: 1/200 or 1/250   You can’t go any faster than that because then it won’t pick up the speed light. If you go any slower then it won’t freeze the action of the water drop. 1/200 is fast enough to freeze the water drop in a picture.
  • F-stop: f4 to f12   This is the setting you will change depending on (1) how much light you need in your photo and (2) how much blur you want in the background.
  • ISO: 100-400    You don’t want grainy images, so a lower ISO is always better for that.
  • Continuous Speed: You want to be able to hold down the button and snap quickly, so I turn mine on continuous so I can hold that puppy down and click away!
  • White Balance: Auto works great! You can change it if you want different coloring effects.
  • Speedlight: You don’t want the speed light to be too powerful or else it will take too long to recycle, so I like to stick around 1/64 so it has time to keep firing.

Focus It

  • This part is pretty tough. You have to focus on the water drop and lock the focus so you don’t ever have to do it again haha. It’s almost impossible to do this by focusing on the drops alone, so I like to stick a toothpick or even my finger right where the drops are falling (make sure the drops are falling in the same place each time and that the bag is holding still) and then focus on the toothpick. Take a few test shots to make sure it is in focus, and that the speed light is working.
  • Adjust the f-stop if needed. It not enough of the drop is in focus, bump up that f-stop. Remember: If you are trying to get the water drops to collide, then you will want a slightly larger f-stop because the diameter of the water crash is way larger than just a small drop.

Shoot Shoot Shoot

  • Now hold that shutter down and take a million photos! You never know when a collision could happen, or when different stages of the single water drop could happen, so I like to just hold down the button and take as many as I can to make the chances of missing anything small! (click image to see a few different stages!)Megan Kelly, Macro Photography, Portfolio, Unique, Professional, Talented, Young, Colorful, Snowflake, Water Drop, close up
  • Look occasionally to see if you got anything! Then you will start to see when the good times are to shoot. For example, when I get a collision, I will mark it with a sharpie on my ziploc bag, so I know that once the water is down at that level in the bag, good things could happen=)
  • Adjust the colors, angle of your camera, and get creative!

 

No Collisions?

  • Sometimes I get stuck in this rut and I don’t get any collisions. It’s frustrating. Here are some things I try to see if I can get them to collide. The first is to make the speed of the drips closer together, so they are falling fast! This can be done by cutting a bigger hole in the bag, by putting more/less water in the bag, etc.
  • Sometimes the drops aren’t big enough. Some drops that fall out of my bags are small, and others I cut the hold perfectly and the drops are nice and large! The large full drops work better, so try to get them as big as you can!
  • Make the drops fall from a higher distance. Then it will splash back up higher, and give the next drop a better chance to hit the other one.

Good luck! Let me know if you try it out, and if you have any questions! I will answer them the best I can!