We are starting to develop some control in photographing water drop collisions. The photos below were created using an ancient 100 mm macro lens mounted on a Canon 100D affixed to a tabletop tripod. A 2 to 5 second exposure was made in a darkened room while two successive drops were released into a martini glass filled with water. A flash (at 1/16 power) was triggered as the drops collided. In the “umbrella” shape seen in the photos, the “shaft” is created as the first drop plunges into the water in the glass and then rebounds into the air. The “canopy” is created when the second drop collides with the rebounding first drop.
In response to a question we received, we are adding some additional technical details. First, the backgrounds are simply random objects we thought would be interesting. The background in the featured photo is a cloth apron. The other picture backgrounds are simply patterned papers we bought at a craft store. It really doesn’t matter much what one uses so long as it involves small scale random patterns and good color contrast. The narrow depth of field of the 100 mm macro lens helps blur the backgrounds so the focus of the pictures remains on the water drops. We think there are patterns on the internet that can be downloaded and printed that would be equally useful. Here is an additional photo in which a sheet of paper covered in blue glitter was used as a background.
A second point is that the flash was aimed half way between the water drops and the background. If the flash directly hits the water drops, they will become nearly invisible. The angle we used reflects the light through the drops and causes highlights because the drops act as lenses bending the light and sending some of the flash towards the camera. The lens effect is especially apparent in the photos with nearly spherical water drops where the background is inverted and reversed from left to right within the drops.
A final point is that focus is critical for good shots. We switched our lens to manual focus and one of us held a pencil tip on the water at the point of impact of the water drops while the other focused. Since the Canon 100D has live view, we first focused at 1x and then 5x and 10x to make sure our shots would be sharp.
We are still learning how to make these photos but would be happy to answer any questions we can.