What you'll learn
1. How to set up to create awesome water drop photos
2. How to create a low cost water dropper
3. How to use Triggertrap Mobile's motion mode to capture photos
Capturing water drops is a lot of fun. While it is pretty easy by hand, you can make it slightly easier by using a sensor to trigger the camera.
What you'll need
- DSLR with macro lens,
- Flash gun, a way of triggering it off camera & stand
- Triggertrap Mobile Kit for your camera and an iOS device
- Triggertrap Phonetrap
- Optional: Triggertrap Extension Cable
- A Tripod (you may need an extra depending on how you set up)
- A baking tray or similar to hold the water
- A plastic cup
- A pin
- A way of securing the cup above the tray - we're using a tripod & gaffer tape.
A bit of theory
This is a fairly simple technique, however you should be pretty confident with using you camera on manual and on manual focus.
Water drop photography is a lot of fun, but can be fairly tricky to do by hand. Automating the process with a sensor can help speed things up.
When shooting water drops, there’s a few things you need to consider.
First of all, you’ll be trying to freeze motion. This can be achieved by either using a really fast shutter speed, or by adding in flash. The easiest way to get clean, motion free images is to use a flash. You can either trigger the flash separately for super fast response times and short flash durations, or take trigger the camera. The advantage with triggering the camera instead of the flash is that you can shoot in light enviroments.
For this set up, we'll be using Triggertrap Mobile's Motion mode. The motion mode uses the camera on an iOS device to look for a change in the scene, as such it's important to make sure there is enough light on your set up for the camera to be able to see the water dro[ps
The one thing to consider when using flash with the camera is that the cameras shutter speed shouldn't exceed the sync speed (the shutter speed at which flash still syncs correctly). If you exceed the sync speed, you'll end up getting a dark band across your photo.
First of all, set up your backdrop and tray. The backdrop can be anything but colourful paper works perfectly. We've used gift wrap here.
Add your tray or dish and fill it to the rim with water.
Suspend a plastic cup over the tray you've just set up. We've used a tripod and a load of gaffers tape to hold the cup in place. Next, pierce a small hole in the bottom of the cup with a drawing pin.
Place the camera securely on a tripod and compose your shot. Pointing down on the tray can give a better perspective and using a macro lens will help you get close to the action.
Set the camera to manual exposure and manual focus. Set the shutter speed to the camera's sync speed (usually around 1/125 or 1/250), set a moderate aperture (f/11 works well) and set the ISO to get a good exposure with your flash.
If you’re using an external flash, set it to a low power and point it at your backdrop. If you’re using the cameras built in flash, pop it up now. We've used a flash with a built in radio receiver and it's transmitter to make adjusting the power extra easy.
Start the drops by adding water to the cup. If the drops don’t start falling straight away, give the cup a tap by the hole to kick things off.
Once you have a steady stream of water drops, hold a pen or pencil at the point the drops are landing and manually focus on the tip. This is much easier to focus on than the drops in motion.
Connect your Triggertrap Mobile kit to your cameras cable release port. Plug the other end into the headphone jack on your iOS device. If you're not sure how to set Triggertrap Mobile up, check out our tutorial here.
Set up your iOS device so that the camera is pointing at the base of the drop cup. We used a Lolipod combined with the Triggertrap Phonetrap to hold the iPhone in the correct position.
Next set the sensitivity on the app so that the camera fires as the water drops fall from the cup.
The finished setup
At this stage, you should have your dropper, backdrop and tray all set. Your camera should be set and focused and Triggertrap Mobile should be ready to go.
Capturing the photos
Double check your focus, exposure and composition by taking a test shot. If everything looks good, start taking the photos, simply hit the red button to start the motion sensor mode.
The motion sensor should trigger the camera as the drops are falling. If you’re missing the drops, adjust the height of the dripper slightly it may take a little tweaking to get things right, but once you do it’s as easy as letting the drips drop and the camera fire.