How to Make Your DIY Water Droplet Studio - Digital Photography School

How to Make Your DIY Water Droplet Studio

A Guest Post by Brian Pearson.

This tutorial will focus on how to create a homemade Water Droplet Studio to get those great macro shots of a water drop splashing against still water, creating an explosion of colors.

diy-water-droplet-studio.jpg

Materials Needed:

  • A cup of Water (your choice of color)
  • A Ziploc-like plastic bag filled with water
  • A roll of tape
  • An external flash
  • A Pencil
  • A razor (or any sharp pointed object)
  • Multiple sheets of paper (your choice of color)
  • A towel (for cleaning up)
  • And of course a Smile!!!!

Step 1: Location

Find a place that has san overhang such as a desk with a cabinet pulled out or really anywhere that you can hang a small plastic bag filled with water.

Step 2: Colors Colors Colors

Fill a cup with water. It can be any color any shape. In my case I used a Blue cup with a wave-like design to it . place 2 sheets of paper( again your choice of color) directly under your overhang area.

Step 3: Tape Fixes Everything

Place a sheet of paper vertical behind the cup of water. You can do this by taping it against another vertical surface or leaning it against something.

diy-water-droplet-studio-2.jpg

Step 4: Hang a Water-Bag?

Fill a third of a small plastic Ziploc-like bag with water. Hang the plastic bag above the paper on your overhang using the tape.

diy-water-droplet-studio-3.jpg

Step 5: Just Focus

Adjust the cup and plastic bag so that they will align neatly. Using a razor or a sharp pointed object poke a small hole in the plastic bag so that it drips neatly into the cup. Take a pencil or pen and place it in the location in the cup where the water droplets are splashing then use your camera to auto-focus onto it. From there on you can keep the camera in manual focus.

Step 6: Creativity is Key

Set up your external flash on its lowest setting and point it at the cup. Place your camera on Time Value mode or TV at 1/250. Throughout this photo shoot your lens may get wet, so it’s always smart to keep a cloth or towel nearby. Take lots and lots of pictures. Mess around with shots, BE CREATIVE!

diy-water-droplet-studio-4.jpg

Check out more of Brian Pearson’s work at www.brian-pearson.com.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category.

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  • http://www.cabinfeververmont.com Jen at Cabin Fever

    This is very cool! I did something very similar to this trying to catch a water droplet in a puddle. I just positioned myself near where the droplets were consistently falling off the fender of my car and waited for the right “plop”. Don’t forget ample light and a fast shutter speed! :)

    Cabin Fever in Vermont

    NEK Photography Blog

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/fusionmonger/ J.B.C.

    Thanks for the article … Here is my result of doing this sort of thing (I just used my filled kitchen sink set to a slow drip and some blue gels).

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/fusionmonger/4485256755/

  • http://photography.offcenter.org/ Mark Donnelly

    Coincidentally, I just did the same thing two days ago, following this YouTube tutorial. It had a couple of other interesting ideas, like playing with the white balance and changing the background coloring.

  • http://blue-fish-photography.com/ Andy Merrett

    Would be fun to try this in the dark, maybe LED lit, also how would it look using a slightly slower shutter speed? Gonna have to try this soon.

  • http://naturesmugshots.blogspot.com Andrew

    I like playing with the white balance, and backdrop material. Try using slightly crumpled aluminum foil; it bounces the light very interestingly.

    My best three from when I played with this:

    http://naturesmugshots.blogspot.com/2010/06/more-fun-with-speedlite.html

  • Monique

    Here’s a storyboard with some of the shots I’ve gotten.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/moniquephotography/4625576183/

  • Caroline

    I’m sorry, but this article isn’t very convincing. All that work, and those are the best shots you were able to get? No thanks.

  • http://www.lightshootedit.com scott

    I like your zip-lock bag idea, but I too am also not elated with the example images you have posted. I have done this before with a cookie-sheet (pan) filled with water, but had a manual drop release (wife). Had some nice shots and I think the limiter here is the rim of the glass. Trying to take shots over that has made your photos mediocre. I have also found that lighting these from under or behind is best.

    http://www.lioghtshootedit.com

  • http://www.lightshootedit.com scott

    I like your zip-lock bag idea, but I too am also not elated with the example images you have posted. I have done this before with a cookie-sheet (pan) filled with water, but had a manual drop release (wife). Had some nice shots and I think the limiter here is the rim of the glass. Trying to take shots over that has made your photos mediocre. I have also found that lighting these from under or behind is best.

    http://www.lightshootedit.com

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/vathsav Sree

    I took these a long time ago…

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/vathsav/sets/72157622984620040/
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/vathsav/4212675120/' title='a celebrity [water] drop’ url=’http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2555/4212675120_414aca9094.jpg’]

  • http://www.nickrains.com Nick Rains

    Here are a few ways to take this type of image a bit further:

    1. Shallow trays make better drop bounce-backs. Different depths affect the results.
    2. Black plastic bin liner is very effective inside a cat litter tray or better still a very shallow baking tray.
    3. The bigger the tray the better, to avoid getting the edge in frame.
    4. A lit white background reflecting in the water can be coloured either with gels or in post.
    5. Point the strobes at the background not the drops.
    6. Extension tubes on a 85mm or 135mm lens give a nice narrow field of view to avoid the tray edges.

    Just a few suggestions to play with…

  • oliverignacio

    I agree with caroline. The set-up was great but you’ve showed a mediocre output. Moreover, I disagree with this:
    “Set up your external flash on its lowest setting and point it at the cup. Place your camera on Time Value mode or TV at 1/250. ”

    Do not point the flash at the cup. Point it at the background. And use Manual mode, compensating with the flash’s output.

  • http://www.saudident.com Mahmoud H. Al-Johani
  • PhiLOueL

    Cool tutorial thanks!

    I tried it with a chrome bowl and look: http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/x2r2jTySTDBMbsglLM9Awg?feat=directlink

  • http://www.darrenclarkphoto.blogspot.com/ darren_c

    I tried my own water drop shots not too long ago and posted on my blog. I first posted the shots and then followed up with the set-up and how I shot them. I was really pleased for a first time. Leave me a comment on my blog if you like them.

    You can check out both posts here:

    http://darrenclarkphoto.blogspot.com/2010/05/what-to-do-with-leaky-faucet-water-drop.html

    http://darrenclarkphoto.blogspot.com/2010/06/water-drop-set-up.html

    Cheers!

    DC

  • skv

    Hi,
    Is it possible to take droplet pictures at Tv/125 with canon 210 new dig camera ?please give me a fast replay ……
    skv

  • Ryan

    Brian = spent all that time writing this article and taking photos of his step-by-step tutorial.

    Scott, Caroline, Oliver = rather than be thankful other people are sharing their thoughts and educating us, it sounds like they are complaining douches. It’s a wonder why people still volunteer their time and effort to write articles to only be bombarded by negativity from people such as these.

  • http://endemoniada.org Martin

    This was my quick-and-dirty attempt: http://www.flickr.com/photos/endemoniada/4865221927/

    No background, just bokeh and natural light from behind. I had a flash set up on a Gorilla Pod to the side of my camera, using E-TTL II. It was shot at 1/1000 with f/5.6. My biggest problem was that keeping the camera as close as I possibly could, my DOF was only just a centimeter wide. With the angle and everything, it was extremely hard to get the whole splash in focus. Anyway, it turned out reasonably well for being a pretty spontaneous shot, I think.

  • Shannon (Im a guy)

    Anybody have some explicit instructions on how to take these type photographs. New in photography and like this idea.

  • http://www.smokinphoto.com Digital Photography

    Awesome article. Thank you very much Nick for sharing the tips below:

    1. Shallow trays make better drop bounce-backs. Different depths affect the results.
    2. Black plastic bin liner is very effective inside a cat litter tray or better still a very shallow baking tray.
    3. The bigger the tray the better, to avoid getting the edge in frame.
    4. A lit white background reflecting in the water can be coloured either with gels or in post.
    5. Point the strobes at the background not the drops.
    6. Extension tubes on a 85mm or 135mm lens give a nice narrow field of view to avoid the tray edges.

    I’d love for some of the photography enthusiasts’ to visit our site. We have many articles on Digital Photography , Business Photography, Camera Reviews, Photography articles

  • http://staynerv.blogspot.com Mathieu
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/mitchy79/ @Mitchy79

    Hello Brian,

    thank you very much for your tutorial! It made me curious and finally I tried it on my own last night. And yes, I like my first results! :)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mitchy79/4872170288/
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/mitchy79/4872170288/' title='Water Drop 01' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4136/4872170288_2b6daace6c.jpg']

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mitchy79/4870465156/
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/mitchy79/4870465156/' title='Water Drop 02' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4140/4870465156_68699d0834.jpg']

    Cheers,
    Michael

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/mkbhat/ Madhuri
  • Michael Jolley

    Thank You .. for your tutorial MJ[eimg url='http://photos-c.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs377.snc4/46063_146381755391757_100000597991641_306214_1228186_s.jpg' title='46063_146381755391757_100000597991641_306214_1228186_s.jpg']

  • Alan Foley

    I know this is an old thread but here is my attempt at drops, and the last shot is the set up i made to shoot the drops which i’ve modified a bit with the placements of the flash units.

    [eimg url='http://i54.tinypic.com/4qh6vl.jpg' title='4qh6vl.jpg']

    [eimg url='http://i53.tinypic.com/qzrz1s.jpg' title='qzrz1s.jpg']

    [eimg url='http://i51.tinypic.com/25fhkeh.jpg' title='25fhkeh.jpg']

    [eimg url='http://i52.tinypic.com/s14875.jpg' title='s14875.jpg']

    [eimg url='http://i51.tinypic.com/bg5jzb.jpg' title='bg5jzb.jpg']

    [eimg url='http://i53.tinypic.com/2ldbuv6.jpg' title='2ldbuv6.jpg']

    [eimg url='http://i52.tinypic.com/fyphxy.jpg' title='fyphxy.jpg']

    [eimg url='http://i52.tinypic.com/2vx3cph.jpg' title='2vx3cph.jpg']

    [eimg url='http://i35.tinypic.com/141t3c.jpg' title='141t3c.jpg']

  • Monica Field

    I love the way this was done with everyday stuff.. I saw this done in a photography course & the teacher did use expensive equipment. Didn’t think I could do it myself at home. Thanks for sharing.

Some older comments

  • Alan Foley

    September 24, 2010 01:40 pm

    I know this is an old thread but here is my attempt at drops, and the last shot is the set up i made to shoot the drops which i've modified a bit with the placements of the flash units.

    [eimg url='http://i54.tinypic.com/4qh6vl.jpg' title='4qh6vl.jpg']

    [eimg url='http://i53.tinypic.com/qzrz1s.jpg' title='qzrz1s.jpg']

    [eimg url='http://i51.tinypic.com/25fhkeh.jpg' title='25fhkeh.jpg']

    [eimg url='http://i52.tinypic.com/s14875.jpg' title='s14875.jpg']

    [eimg url='http://i51.tinypic.com/bg5jzb.jpg' title='bg5jzb.jpg']

    [eimg url='http://i53.tinypic.com/2ldbuv6.jpg' title='2ldbuv6.jpg']

    [eimg url='http://i52.tinypic.com/fyphxy.jpg' title='fyphxy.jpg']

    [eimg url='http://i52.tinypic.com/2vx3cph.jpg' title='2vx3cph.jpg']

    [eimg url='http://i35.tinypic.com/141t3c.jpg' title='141t3c.jpg']

  • Michael Jolley

    August 23, 2010 09:20 am

    Thank You .. for your tutorial MJ[eimg url='http://photos-c.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs377.snc4/46063_146381755391757_100000597991641_306214_1228186_s.jpg' title='46063_146381755391757_100000597991641_306214_1228186_s.jpg']

  • Madhuri

    August 11, 2010 12:01 am

    Thanks for the tutorial on waterdroplets. Here are some I tried

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mkbhat/4877111051/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mkbhat/4877111057/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mkbhat/4877111063/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mkbhat/4877117771/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mkbhat/4877727580/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mkbhat/4877118277/

  • @Mitchy79

    August 9, 2010 01:36 am

    Hello Brian,

    thank you very much for your tutorial! It made me curious and finally I tried it on my own last night. And yes, I like my first results! :)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mitchy79/4872170288/
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/mitchy79/4872170288/' title='Water Drop 01' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4136/4872170288_2b6daace6c.jpg']

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mitchy79/4870465156/
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/mitchy79/4870465156/' title='Water Drop 02' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4140/4870465156_68699d0834.jpg']

    Cheers,
    Michael

  • Mathieu

    August 8, 2010 05:07 am

    Nice article.

    I have try too :

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/staynervous/4869041971/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/staynervous/4869044379/

    Cheers.

  • Digital Photography

    August 7, 2010 11:10 am

    Awesome article. Thank you very much Nick for sharing the tips below:

    1. Shallow trays make better drop bounce-backs. Different depths affect the results.
    2. Black plastic bin liner is very effective inside a cat litter tray or better still a very shallow baking tray.
    3. The bigger the tray the better, to avoid getting the edge in frame.
    4. A lit white background reflecting in the water can be coloured either with gels or in post.
    5. Point the strobes at the background not the drops.
    6. Extension tubes on a 85mm or 135mm lens give a nice narrow field of view to avoid the tray edges.

    I'd love for some of the photography enthusiasts’ to visit our site. We have many articles on Digital Photography , Business Photography, Camera Reviews, Photography articles

  • Shannon (Im a guy)

    August 7, 2010 06:45 am

    Anybody have some explicit instructions on how to take these type photographs. New in photography and like this idea.

  • Martin

    August 7, 2010 05:47 am

    This was my quick-and-dirty attempt: http://www.flickr.com/photos/endemoniada/4865221927/

    No background, just bokeh and natural light from behind. I had a flash set up on a Gorilla Pod to the side of my camera, using E-TTL II. It was shot at 1/1000 with f/5.6. My biggest problem was that keeping the camera as close as I possibly could, my DOF was only just a centimeter wide. With the angle and everything, it was extremely hard to get the whole splash in focus. Anyway, it turned out reasonably well for being a pretty spontaneous shot, I think.

  • Ryan

    August 6, 2010 11:50 pm

    Brian = spent all that time writing this article and taking photos of his step-by-step tutorial.

    Scott, Caroline, Oliver = rather than be thankful other people are sharing their thoughts and educating us, it sounds like they are complaining douches. It's a wonder why people still volunteer their time and effort to write articles to only be bombarded by negativity from people such as these.

  • skv

    August 6, 2010 03:43 pm

    Hi,
    Is it possible to take droplet pictures at Tv/125 with canon 210 new dig camera ?please give me a fast replay ......
    skv

  • darren_c

    August 6, 2010 10:14 am

    I tried my own water drop shots not too long ago and posted on my blog. I first posted the shots and then followed up with the set-up and how I shot them. I was really pleased for a first time. Leave me a comment on my blog if you like them.

    You can check out both posts here:

    http://darrenclarkphoto.blogspot.com/2010/05/what-to-do-with-leaky-faucet-water-drop.html

    http://darrenclarkphoto.blogspot.com/2010/06/water-drop-set-up.html

    Cheers!

    DC

  • PhiLOueL

    August 6, 2010 08:19 am

    Cool tutorial thanks!

    I tried it with a chrome bowl and look: http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/x2r2jTySTDBMbsglLM9Awg?feat=directlink

  • Mahmoud H. Al-Johani

    August 6, 2010 06:40 am

    Thank you for this great How-To post.

    I have made several shots, and have posted two shots @ my tumblr : http://aljohani.tumblr.com/

    Shots ulr:
    http://s3.amazonaws.com/data.tumblr.com/tumblr_l6p3ym3KWi1qanz2po1_1280.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=0RYTHV9YYQ4W5Q3HQMG2&Expires=1281127082&Signature=15FGT7a8gfHIh8jd10GXH0JyYhY%3D

    http://s3.amazonaws.com/data.tumblr.com/tumblr_l6p293yFG21qanz2po1_1280.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=0RYTHV9YYQ4W5Q3HQMG2&Expires=1281127112&Signature=ppau4wPKmXfNhLO5wH7GWDmt2NE%3D

    All comments are welcome :)

  • oliverignacio

    August 5, 2010 01:22 pm

    I agree with caroline. The set-up was great but you've showed a mediocre output. Moreover, I disagree with this:
    "Set up your external flash on its lowest setting and point it at the cup. Place your camera on Time Value mode or TV at 1/250. "

    Do not point the flash at the cup. Point it at the background. And use Manual mode, compensating with the flash's output.

  • Nick Rains

    August 5, 2010 01:17 pm

    Here are a few ways to take this type of image a bit further:

    1. Shallow trays make better drop bounce-backs. Different depths affect the results.
    2. Black plastic bin liner is very effective inside a cat litter tray or better still a very shallow baking tray.
    3. The bigger the tray the better, to avoid getting the edge in frame.
    4. A lit white background reflecting in the water can be coloured either with gels or in post.
    5. Point the strobes at the background not the drops.
    6. Extension tubes on a 85mm or 135mm lens give a nice narrow field of view to avoid the tray edges.

    Just a few suggestions to play with...

  • Sree

    August 5, 2010 04:06 am

    I took these a long time ago...

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/vathsav/sets/72157622984620040/
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/vathsav/4212675120/' title='a celebrity [water] drop' url='http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2555/4212675120_414aca9094.jpg']

  • scott

    August 5, 2010 03:55 am

    I like your zip-lock bag idea, but I too am also not elated with the example images you have posted. I have done this before with a cookie-sheet (pan) filled with water, but had a manual drop release (wife). Had some nice shots and I think the limiter here is the rim of the glass. Trying to take shots over that has made your photos mediocre. I have also found that lighting these from under or behind is best.

    http://www.lightshootedit.com

  • scott

    August 5, 2010 03:55 am

    I like your zip-lock bag idea, but I too am also not elated with the example images you have posted. I have done this before with a cookie-sheet (pan) filled with water, but had a manual drop release (wife). Had some nice shots and I think the limiter here is the rim of the glass. Trying to take shots over that has made your photos mediocre. I have also found that lighting these from under or behind is best.

    http://www.lioghtshootedit.com

  • Caroline

    August 5, 2010 03:15 am

    I'm sorry, but this article isn't very convincing. All that work, and those are the best shots you were able to get? No thanks.

  • Monique

    August 5, 2010 02:59 am

    Here's a storyboard with some of the shots I've gotten.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/moniquephotography/4625576183/

  • Andrew

    August 5, 2010 02:44 am

    I like playing with the white balance, and backdrop material. Try using slightly crumpled aluminum foil; it bounces the light very interestingly.

    My best three from when I played with this:

    http://naturesmugshots.blogspot.com/2010/06/more-fun-with-speedlite.html

  • Andy Merrett

    August 5, 2010 02:22 am

    Would be fun to try this in the dark, maybe LED lit, also how would it look using a slightly slower shutter speed? Gonna have to try this soon.

  • Mark Donnelly

    August 5, 2010 01:39 am

    Coincidentally, I just did the same thing two days ago, following this YouTube tutorial. It had a couple of other interesting ideas, like playing with the white balance and changing the background coloring.

  • J.B.C.

    August 5, 2010 12:45 am

    Thanks for the article ... Here is my result of doing this sort of thing (I just used my filled kitchen sink set to a slow drip and some blue gels).

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/fusionmonger/4485256755/

  • Jen at Cabin Fever

    August 5, 2010 12:17 am

    This is very cool! I did something very similar to this trying to catch a water droplet in a puddle. I just positioned myself near where the droplets were consistently falling off the fender of my car and waited for the right "plop". Don't forget ample light and a fast shutter speed! :)

    Cabin Fever in Vermont

    NEK Photography Blog

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