Simple Start to Water Drop Photography

Drop top, water drop, I don't know this song someone make me stop.

Backstory

When I was in college, one of my professors gave us a water drop photography assignment. And I'll be honest, I had never heard of such a thing! She showed us examples of it and in my head I couldn't help but think, "this is going to be so boring."

Then, there was the added pressure of needing to use an external flash, off of the camera... yikes.

I'll tell you a little secret

I absolutely hate having to use any gear other than... well, a camera body and one or two lenses. Simplicity is the name of the game for me.

But when I finally got around to doing the assignment, I ended up playing around for at least two hours with pretty much just a Ziplock baggie of water. This led to me shooting two of my favorite abstract photos- the one above, and this one:

Am I nerding out, or is this actually rad?

If you are interested in trying out this funky, abstract style of photography you're in the right place. In this post I'll be showing you my simple setup for water drop photography and giving you alternate ways to make it happen if you don't have all the high-tech gear on hand.

What You Will Need

  • Camera

  • 1 Ziplock Bag

  • 1 Safety Pin (or something with a pointy end!)

  • 1 Cup or Bowl

  • A Chair

  • A Stack of Books

  • *Tripod

  • *Background Picture

  • *Off-Camera Flash

  • Wireless flash triggers

  • WATER!

* These aren't 100% necessary. If you don't have starred items available, you can adjust with the recommendations at the bottom of this post 😀

Time to Set Up!

1. Fill your baggie with water and use your safety pin to poke a small hole in one of the bottom corners. It might take a few tries to get a drip-pace you like, so maybe keep some exta baggies handy.

2. Set your baggie aside and move your chair onto a coffee table or desk with the cup or bowl under the edge of the seat.

3. Set up your background image behind the cup or bowl at the back legs of the chair.

4. Set up your flash and triggers.

5. This will change depending on what you want, and I recommend experimenting and moving the flash around throughout the shoot to get different lighting!

6. Set up your tripod with your camera, shutter release and wireless flash triggers in place.

7. Use your tape or book stack and secure your baggie to the edge of the seat so the drips land into the cup or bowl below.

8. Start shooting!

Note: You won't catch every drop. This is a super hit-or-miss project as far as timing goes!

Here's what it might look like

But there's no right or wrong way to do it! What works best for me might not be what works best for you. Be patient and try out some different setups to find what feels and looks right to you.

I was so excited to give this technique a shot (haha, get it?) again. It took some trial and error with setting it up and changing lenses, but once everything was to my liking I was entertained for hours.

Here are my favorites from my shoot!

You really won't know what gems you've got until you go through the editing process, but you're bound to get some good ones!

During my entire session I felt like I got more choppy water than neat water drops, but that's honestly part of the fun with this genre.

Make sure to share your water drop pictures with me if you try this out and if you liked this little how-to, let me know in the comments. I can't wait to see what you guys get!

* - Recommendations No off-camera flash? Try a flashlight or book light you can prop up or have someone hold near your setup. In this case you won't need wireless flash triggers.

No tripod? Stack up some books, pull up another chair, or use a step-stool to place your camera on. You could always have your camera in your hands, too to get different angles. Don't have a printer to get a unique background image? No worries. This won't make or break your pictures. It just lets you get creative and add an abstract feel.

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Nettik Photography

Northern Arizona