Jan 28

Blue Droplets Frozen in Time

Droplet Man - Panasonic GX1 with Leica 45mm f/2.8 Macro

Today I finally did a little photographic project I’ve been meaning to do for a very long time.  I’m sure most of you have seen pictures of water drops, perhaps you’ve tried it, perhaps you have always wondered how it’s done.  Today I did it.  It was a very simple setup.  I put my camera on my tripod with a macro lens and went into the bathroom to have darkness, so the only light would be from my flash.  I put my flashgun on a light stand to my left, aimed at a tiny bowl of water, which I colored with one drop of blue food coloring.  I connected the flash to my camera with an off-camera shoe cord and set the flash to manual exposure.  I focused my lens on the dead center of the bowl, shut off the light and used an eyedropper to drop single drops of water into the center of the bowl.

It took some trial and error, both to learn how to drop the water droplets in the right spot, and to vary timing so that actual formations of interest were captured.  Mostly, I just tripped the shutter as soon as I saw a drop leave the eyedropper.  Since my flash was close, I was using 1/16 power and f/10 on my lens, and still got proper exposure.  The flash duration is short, so it easily froze the action.  The only really tricky part is that with this close of a setup, the depth of field, even at f/10 on Micro 4/3, is extremely shallow…like in the 3-4mm range.  Any miss was out of focus.  In fact, about 80% of my shots were out of focus.  If I were doing more extensive work, I’d have rigged up something to hold the eyedropper, so that the drops hit in the same spot each time.  Even as it was, I got some excellent images.  Give it a try sometime!

All images are clickable for a larger version.

Floating Capsule - Panasonic GX1 with Leica 45mm f/2.8 Macro

Hovering - Panasonic GX1 with Leica 45mm f/2.8 Macro


About the author

Jordan Steele

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Admiring Light; Photographer; Electrical Engineer and Dad


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  1. Dad

    …….Now your getting Freaky Good !
    Excellent drop shots !
    (These could be framed as a modern compostition for any really cool upscale

    Keep up the good work


  2. andrew

    Cool shots! Do you mind sharing what flash and slave cable setup you used with your GX1? I am just getting into macro use with this camera. Fun stuff!

    1. Jordan Steele

      I used the Canon OC-E3 Off camera shoe cord, which has the same pinout at Panasonic and Oly. I’m pretty sure I used my Metz 50 AF-1, but it’s possible I used one of my manual flashes…I can’t remember. I don’t use any cables now, though, as I’ve been using the Cowboy Studio wireless RF triggers, which work extremely well, and cost very little. You can get them on Amazon for $20.

  3. sir_c

    A very simple solution is to hang a plastic bag full of water above the bowl. Punch a tiny hole in the bottom using a pin needle and the droplets will start falling every few seconds. After some practicing you will get the hang of it and start to feel the cadence of the droplets. It then gets easier to better time the shots.

    A bigger hole shortens the distance between the droplets, and with a bit of luck, the splash in the bowl will hit the next droplet, creating cool collision effects.

    Gelling the flash also gives nice results and gives you opportunity to mix colours.

    A decent backdrop also helps (e.g. a checker board pattern), because this will be visible in the falling droplet.

  1. Blue Droplets Frozen in Time - Micro Four Thirds User Forum

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