How To Capture Water Drops.
My favourite subject to photograph has always been water, just because I love the way a simple matter can be transformed into amazing photographs.
I recently tried to capture water droplet shots, but as many of you will know it can be really difficult to capture these types of photos without proper lighting, a macro lens, and most importantly a decent camera which are all very expensive.
In this tutorial I will show you my methods of creating water droplet photos using a basic camera, some coloured material and a torch, as this creates more definition in the droplet. In all my photos I use my Fuji S1500.
Here is what I do;
This technique works best on an overcast day with not much light.
1. Take a glass or shallow dish and fill it with water. If you use a coloured dish then the colour of the droplets will change.
2. Place the glass/dish in a sink and position it under the tap. You can also place some coloured paper behind the glass to colour the droplet.
3. Then slowly turn the tap on until you get a steady drip.
4. Now set your camera up; I use S (shutter priority) mode for this. Set the shutter speed quite high if you want to freeze the droplet, around 1000 to 2000th of a second. However if you want a smoother appearance to the water you can use a shutter speed of around 200-400th of a second. I found anything below this makes the drop blurred. Also set your iso to around 200, as you want it to capture enough light but not be "noisy".
5. Now put your camera into macro mode (not super-macro as you cannot use the flash). Rest your camera on the edge of the sink and then zoom in a bit as you don't want your camera getting wet and also it steadies the camera if you don't have a tripod. You want your camera level or just above the rim of the glass/dish.
If you don't have manual focus on your camera (which I don't) then you may have trouble auto-focusing on the water because of the reflection. To overcome this take a pen or pencil and position the tip of it where the drop hits the water, then auto focus on the tip of the pen, keep the shutter button held down half way, remove the pen/pencil and take the picture.
6. Next turn off all the lights. Take a torch, position it towards the side of the glass, as this will create more definition to the droplet, then shine it onto the top of the glass/dish where the water is hitting. I also use the flash on my camera to make sure I have plenty of light.
7. Now just start shooting. I found it easier to capture the drop if I pressed the shutter as the drop fell from the end of the tap. This is the trickiest part and it takes a bit of patience but keep at it and you will get some decent shots.
8. Once you have a couple of decent images load them onto your computer. Then load them into a photo editor. First I use Google picassa (here's the download link - http://picasa.google.com/) to straighten, crop, add some contrast and maybe tint the image. Then I use GIMP, because it's free and is available to everyone, (here's the download link - http://www.gimp.org/downloads/) to adjust the shape of the drops. For example if the drop is mis-shapen you can make it into a perfect sphere. Likewise you can increase or decrease the size of the drop and change the positioning of the drop in the photo to your liking.
Please take a look at this video to see my setup.
Here is another set up for capturing water droplets;
I have found this best to do outside on a sunny day, so you have plenty of natural light, which really brings out the colour.
1. Take a large bowl or container. I have used a fish tank (but remember to take the fish out, lol).
2. Fill it right up to the top with water. You want the water line as close to the top as possible because then you'll be able to get your camera level with the water.
As you can see I have filled the container right to the top.
3. Now, if you want to add some colour, place a coloured piece of card or material behind your container. Here I have used a brightly coloured plastic bag behind.
4. Next take a small bag (a sandwich bag works best) and fill it with water.
5. Then tie it to something above your container. The gap between the bottom of the bag and container only has to be around 15-20cm. Here I have just tied the bag to a chair and positioned the container underneath.
5. Next just take a pin and make a small hole in the bag. You want to create a steady stream of drops.
6. Now position your camera on the edge of the container and start taking photos.
Here Is an example of how I edited one of my photos.
Here is the original image straight from the camera
First I used Google Picassa
To start I straightened the photo
Then I cropped it
After that I adjusted the contrast
Then I tinted the image to give it some more definition.
Once you have done the basic fixes you can change the shape or size of the drop of water using GIMP free editing software.
Once you have opened the photo...
Go To Filters - Distort - IWarp
Then in the preview screen you can enlarge, shrink or manipulate the shape of the drop
To select the water drop, if you want to change the colour, you need to use the Ellipse select tool.
Then you need to select the ball of water.
If you wanted to move the water drop around you can do it now whilst the drop is selected.
After that you go to Colours - Hue & Saturation
Now change the Hue, Lightness and Saturation sliders.
Here is the finished photo
Here are the Before and After photos.
And here is the image after it has been cropped, straightened, colour and contrast tweaked and the ball of water has been reshaped.
Here are some more examples of the photos I have done.
Here is an image in which I copied one of the water droplets and just repeated it to create numerous drops. The splash at the bottom has also been enlarged.
Here is another photo using the same repeated technique as above.
All the above photo's were taken using a glass. However you can also use a shallow dish which is what I have used in this image. I have also changed the colour of the drop to create a different effect. This is my favourite.
As well as using coloured dishes, you can also put a coloured piece of paper into the water to change the colour of the droplets. In this case I have used yellow paper.
The next three photos were taken outside. I use a fish tank and a bag filled with water.
You could also try adding a tint for a different effect.
Whilst you have everything setup why not try and capture a photo of the dripping tap.
This technique not only comes in useful for these types of water drop photos, but for any type of water drop shot.
For example in the photo below, the water drop was only very small when I first took it. However by manipulating it and changing the shape I was able to make it larger.
So as you can see it's really quite simple to create these types of photos and you don't need loads of expensive equipment, just a camera (obviously ), a torch and some free software.
If you want to add a border to your images please check out my other tutorial - http://www.myfinepix.com/article/21561/117838
I know the quality of my photo's aren't brilliant, but I do the best I can with the camera I have. If you have a better quality camera you may find that you don't need to edit your shots as much because they will be better straight from the camera.
Thanks for looking at my tutorial. I hope you it inspires you to experiment and give it a go, it is simple but rewarding.
Glad to see so many people have been inspired by my tutorial and have been experimenting.
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