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Creative Water Photography – A Step-by-Step Guide to Making Water Monsters


Have you ever watched an alien movie and wondered how they created those monsters? You’d need a very powerful computer, animation software, and some special skills to create an animated or moving monster. However, you can easily create a series of still monsters by using water. I’ll show you how some creative water photography can enable you to create your own water monsters. It’s simple to do, with great effect!

So let’s get started!


1. What you need to make water monsters:

To do your creative water photography, you will (obviously) need a camera. You can use any DSLR or Mirrorless camera. In fact, you can use a point-and-shoot camera if it is capable of firing an external flash.

A standard lens, like a 24-70 mm, is good, as you don’t want your splash to go out of the frame. You also don’t want water splashes on your camera.

In addition to a camera, you will need an external flash and a cable or wireless trigger to fire the flash. Then you’ll need a large diffuser. You can use the translucent part of a five-in-one reflector, or you can use a butter paper sheet and paste it on a wooden frame. A reflector is a better choice here, as you don’t need to make a wooden frame, and it also won’t get damaged if some water spills on it.

You’ll need a light stand to affix the flash and a tripod for the camera.

If you have a portable water tub, you can do this shoot in a room. However, if you don’t have one, you’ll have to do it outside.

Also, you’ll need to wait until night, as you can’t do this shoot in daylight.

You’ll also need an assistant to throw the water so you can click the beautiful water monsters.

Creative Water Photography – A Step-by-Step Guide to Making Water Monsters

2. Setup:

The setup is pretty simple.

If you are shooting your water monsters indoors, place your water tub in the room and hang the diffuser behind it.

Set the flash a little bit farther away from the diffuser. If you have a round studio light reflector, use it. It’ll give you a nice, round light effect. If you don’t have one, that’s okay. You can just use the flash.

Fix your camera on the tripod and place it far from the water tub. You don’t want water splashes on your expensive camera, so you’re going to use it on full zoom. If you don’t have a 24-70mm lens, you can use a 100mm lens and place the camera farther.

See the image below to view the setup.



3. Camera and other settings:

Now you have done that, let’s talk about settings.

Place a stick at the center of the water tub and manually focus on it. Don’t forget to set your camera on manual focus after that.

Now you need to finish your camera settings and flash settings. First, we’ll do flash settings.

Change your flash to manual mode and set the power to 1/32. We’re doing this because when the flash is on lower power, it produces the shortest burst of light, which helps to freeze the subject. You can’t go above 1/32 power, as then you’ll start getting motion blur.

Now set the camera to manual mode.

Set your ISO to 100, aperture to f/16, and shutter speed to 1/200 sec or whatever your camera sync speed is. These are the settings I used in all my shots, and they’ll work for you, too.

An aperture of f/16 will give you enough depth of field, and the entire splash will be in focus. Make sure you’re shooting in RAW, too, as this will help in post-processing later.

If you are firing your flash using a radio trigger, set it up. Or if you are using a cable to fire it, attach the cable.

Now your setup is ready, so let’s talk about the workflow and start creating these beautiful water monsters.



Earlier, you placed a stick in the tub of water. Now remove it and replace it with something like a glass so that your assistant knows where the focus point is and throws the water accordingly. Also, tell your assistant about the area where your frame is so they won’t throw the water outside the frame.

Now all you need to do is press the shutter when your assistant throws the water.

They can throw the water in different ways. For example, they can fill both hands with water and throw it upside. Just make sure their hands don’t enter the frame.

Your assistant can use a mug or glass to throw the water, or they can throw it using two or three cups together.

Different methods of throwing water will give you different results.

Even if you use the same method of throwing, you’ll get different pictures every time.

Take at least 100 photos – the more, the better.



Post-processing is quite simple.

First, select good photos from the pictures you’ve taken. If you have clicked 100 pictures, you’ll get 10-12 good photos.

Now open the RAW files in “Camera Raw” and change the white balance to 3000. It’ll convert your gray picture to a blue tone.

If you’re an advanced photographer and you can set custom white balance settings in your camera, set it to 3000 kelvin before the shoot. Then you won’t need to do it in post-processing.

Creative Water Photography – A Step-by-Step Guide to Making Water Monsters

Now you just need to clean up some extra water droplets, crop if needed, and sharpen it. Your water monsters will be ready.

When you’ve finished editing the photos, check out the other images one more time. You’ll find some images that you can merge and use to make something unique. For example, I made this butterfly using three images.



So, let’s do some creative water photography and make these amazing water monsters!

We’d love to see your results, too, so please sharing them in the comments.

Also, if you run into any problems, just comment on this post, and I’ll help you solve them.

Creative Water Photography – A Step-by-Step Guide to Making Water Monsters

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Ramakant Sharda
Ramakant Sharda

is an Award-Winning Photographer, Author, and iOS Apps Publisher based in the beautiful “Pink City” of India, known as Jaipur. Many of his works have been published in magazines, newspapers, and international blogs. He writes about photography and also teaches photography in his workshops. He has published three (so far) coffee table books. They include Frozen Moments, Ephemeral, and The Third Dimension. Check out some of the masterpieces at ClickManic.com or get his latest book Mastering High-Speed Photography..

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