Home Photography Ideas: Take Clever Photos with Water Drops!
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Want to try some clever shots to brighten up your confinement? So here’s a great one for you! Light travels much slower in water than in air, causing light rays to bend as they travel from medium to medium. It’s called refraction – and it opens up a lot of creative photographic opportunities.
In this project, we’re going to capture a falling drop of water, which refracts the light from the scene behind it – flipping it (and flipping it left to right) and bending it in the process.
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We use this quirk of physics to create the illusion of a goldfish trapped in a tiny drop-sized fishbowl. So we have chosen the image of a goldfish for our backdrop, and with the magic of refraction we will be able to capture the fish in a tiny drop of water.
In order to photograph a clear water droplet, we need to use flash to freeze motion, as this allows you to capture motion much faster than your camera’s fastest shutter speed.
For this project you will need a few tripods (one to support your camera and another to hold a dropper in position), a macro lens (which is essential to get close enough to fill the frame), a drops of water (we used a bottle) and a cable release if you have one…
01 Create a backdrop
We used the image of a goldfish to create the illusion of a goldfish trapped in our water drop. Position it upside down, place your camera on a tripod, and place a tall glass of water in between.
02 Add light
Shine an off-camera flash into the background to freeze the movement of the water drop. We used our camera’s pop-up flash as the trigger, making sure there was a clear line of sight between the two.
03 Flash settings
If you don’t have a trigger, you can set your pop-up flash as master. The steps will vary depending on your camera, but they will be broadly similar to our Canon case, where we go to Flash control settings > Enable flash firing > Built-in flash function > Wireless function and press Set, then select the option to trigger only the external flash.
04 Manual mode
Set your flash to slave mode and start with 1/32 power. Set the camera to manual mode and the shutter speed to flash sync speed (1/180-1/250 sec, depending on your camera model).
05 Precise focus
Set a narrow aperture for a large depth of field. As we are setting a low flash power, increase the ISO to 400. Position an object on the glass of water, where the water drops will fall from the dropper, and pre-focus. When your subject is in focus, be sure to switch to manual focus to lock it in.
06 Start shooting
Darken the room to minimize ambient light. Use a shutter cable to minimize camera shake (or set the self-timer, if you don’t have one) and shoot. Check that the droplets are in focus by zooming in on your LCD screen. Timing is everything! This project requires a lot of trial and error not only to capture a sharp drop of water, but to capture it in the right place to get the right splash. Keep going – when you land the magic move, it will be worth it!
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