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How do I take 'water drop on water surface' picture?

Keng Boon Goh , Oct 16, 2000; 03:35 p.m.

I am interested in taking some special/difficult picture like water drop on water surface - the moment the water bounce back. I own a Canon EOS 5 and 540EZ. Can someone advice on this?


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Ellis Vener , Oct 16, 2000; 04:16 p.m.

The easiest way to set this up will be to use a dark background and milk not water. You will need a very short flash duration so you'll need to set the flash to a minimum power setting in manual, 1/32nd or 1/64th power. Set the shutter speed to "B" and the aperture to the appropriate setting (start by usingthe flash's distance scale for flash to subject distance. It usually looks better IMO when the light is off to the side). having prefocused on the spot (once again do this in manual mode), darken the room and open the shutter and let the drop fall. It is best to have adropper or pipette fixed in one place obviously. You'll have to play some with the height to get the velocity right, also as I recall the depth of the fluid that is your target. Your flash should be set off by some sort of motion detector, possibly one with an adjustable delay. Two companies make these devices that I know of but I'm sure there are more. The two companies I am thinking of are Dale, who make (or made) the "Dalebeam". The other company is LPA Designs. Expect to burn some film getting just the right shot. Don't forget to close the shutter after the flash and before you turn on the room lights. Make notes!

Keng Boon Goh , Oct 16, 2000; 04:27 p.m.

Thank Ellis, good infor!!! My first thought of this shot is it will have technical difficulty due to the high speed drop the liquid. Unless I have a high end camera which can give me 10fps, i maybe able to capture some moment. Having setup up the equipment in dark room is hardly can see the drop if without investing money in motion detector. I would definitely try to minimize my expenses if special technique can help. cheers.

Ellis Vener , Oct 16, 2000; 04:38 p.m.

10 frames per second probably won't get you the image you want unless your timing is really, really fortunate. I was shooting baseball earlier this year at eight frames a second, and I can tell you a lot can happen between frames even at those film through the camera speeds.<P> I hope you prove me wrong.

Mel Brown , Oct 16, 2000; 04:54 p.m.

I have done this, and it's very interesting. You have to use an off-camera flash to freeze the motion. More importantly, you have to have a way to trigger the flash at exactly the right moment. This requires an electronic circuit with an adjustable time delay that is triggered when the liquid drop interrupts the light beam shining on a photocell.

I built my own delay circuit for that purpose. I am attaching the schematic so that you can make your own or have an electronics person make one for you. I found the schematic in "Photography - The Guide To Technique" by Andrew Hawkins and Dennis Avon, 1979.

Mel Brown , Oct 16, 2000; 05:09 p.m.

Sorry, but the photo.net image loader clipped the bottom of my .JPG file. The missing text is: "[If] the sensitivity is set too low the LED will" and "[C1 must] be a non-electrolytic type. IC1 is a". Finally, B1 is a 9v battery.

Stan Graves , Oct 16, 2000; 05:30 p.m.

Check out the Photo of the Week gallery. There is an example of the general kind of thing that you're looking to do.


Contact the photographer, Thomas Bercic, for the exact setup and details. Basically, this was a trial and error shot in a dark room on bulb setting. Thomas would drop the glass, then trigger the flash by hand.

Good luck.

Robert Segal , Oct 16, 2000; 05:36 p.m.

Keng Boon Goh,

You might get an idea of how easy (or hard) it is to catch exactly the right moment if you ignore the camera for a while and just practice tripping the flash at a few drops falling in a dark room. In the brief instant the strobe fires, you should be able to see what the camera will see. When you are comfortable you can recreate the desired 'pose' of the drop at will, then bring in the camera. Just a thought.

Ben Jackson , Oct 16, 2000; 06:04 p.m.

Another way to do this is on an autofocus body that takes MF lenses and offers trap focus, where a frame will fire when it sees focus is achieved. The EOS-5 is not such a body, but I thought some of the modern Nikons could do this.

Andrew McLeod , Oct 16, 2000; 07:09 p.m.

If you go to hiviz.com, you will find site about homebrew, triggered hi speed flash photography.


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