Sunday, 17 July 2011

Step by Step picture tutorial - How to capture Water droplets with a dslr camera

I've always wanted to capture water droplets as I find the uniqueness of the shapes fascinating.

This tutorial will show you what equipment I used to take the water droplet photos I have posted above -
If you would like to see my other water droplet images please click on the following link:  My Flickr Water droplet set 

As I am only a beginner in the photography and blogging world, please forgive me for any novice errors in technical terms - If you notice anything that I could change, I would be happy to re -edit the part. 

Unfortunately I didnt feature my camera on this tutorial as I am using it to take the 'how to' pictures oops☺

In order to take dslr macro shots, especially of water droplets, you will need to have a dedicated macro lens. A cheaper option would be to buy a close up lens or use extension tubes for your existing lens. 

You will also need at least one, off camera flash unit, this can be a TTL compatible flash or any 3rd party flash used on manual mode, with a wireless remote trigger and shutter release cable (i use a £20 2nd hand flash - set to 'manual' mode )

Ok lets get started....... :)

Camera settings
f11 aperture
1/125 shutter speed
200 iso
I also experimented with the cameras WB to change the colour range in some shots.

below is a picture of my camera equipment - the 3rd wireless remote trigger is attached to the bottom hotshoe of the flash.
Nikon D5000
Tamron 90mm Macro lens
Off camera Flash x 1
Wireless remote trigger x 3

As I have never taken shots like this before and I am on a budget, my d.i.y set up for these shots has been really basic. 
Additional Equipment
1 x mini tripod (mine is like a gorillapod but doesnt have a name and was alot cheaper £8.99)
1 x 5in1 reflector (mine is 22" £4.99 )
1 x glass pyrex kitchen cooking bowl (£2.99)
1 x black clipboard (£0.69)
1 x pack of neon paper (£0.50)
1 x pack of holographic paper (£0.50)

you will also need a container or bag for the water to drop out of and something to seal the bag with 
What I am using:
1 x fold over sandwich bag (pack of 50 £0.50)
2 x stationary clips (pack of 12 (£0.69)
1 x Badge or safety pin (£0.10)

The last item you will need is something to suspend the bag of water from - this can be a cupboard, a door frame, or like i have used - an old worn set of general use household ladders.

Setting up the equipment
 Place the glass bowl underneath the ladders and place the black clip board behind the glass bowl - Now place your flash to the side of the glass bowl and facing the clip board, position your camera (not shown in these clips) on the tripod approx 12" away from where the water droplet should fall
The black clipboard can hold any background paper or card you wish to use and will change the colours of your water droplet pictures - try different designs and textures for some amazing images through the water.

You can also try using a reflector as a background and bouncing the flash off the reflector for more colour ranges in your droplets. Or try placing different coloured card underneath the glass dish - (for my droplet images I used black card under the glass bowl

Once you have set up your equipment, its now time to be a big kid again and play & experiment with water Yeay :)
Just make sure you have a towel or cloth ready to wipe up any splashes – remember camera’s and water –do NOT mix !!!! 

Fill the glass bowl with  water - I fill mine halfway (1") - I have been told the shallower the water, the more crown type shots - the deeper the water the more chance of water orbs and columns - choose whichever style suits you best :)

Then with the remaining water from the jug, fill the plastic bag 1/3 with water

seal the bag - or fold over like the bag i used for my photos
Clip the two stationary clips to the top of the bag so it is secure

Attatch the bag to the underneath of the ladder using the clips to secure, if your ladder doesnt have anywhere for the clips to attach you could also try using some garden wire to attach the clips to the ladder - I have placed some green wire to the ladder to illustrate both methods

another view of the underneath of the ladder and the attached bag of water 

I then make a small hole in the bag of water with a safety pin from the badge
This allows droplets to fall into the glass bowl at a slow steady rate.

I used a serrated edged knife to focus my lens approx 2cm above the point at which the droplet hits the water in the bowl. - if you dont have a knife you can also use a ball point pen or similar object to focus the camera on the spot at which you want to capture the detail.

And then start taking pictures - click to your hearts content :)

  • The water in the bag lasts for about half and hour before the droplets slow down

  • Remember to use a shutter release cable a wireless remote trigger or the timer on your camera to take the shots, this avoids camera shake and gives you a clearer shot

  • Also experiment with different backgrounds and droplet heights for more effects
  • Try changing the power and the angle of the flash and also try the flash hand held – for different lighting effects – 
The pics below are samples of pictures taken with the above set up  

The possibilities are endless – just let your imagination run away with you and enjoy capturing the uniqueness of water drops

that is about all I can think of to set up a basic water droplet studio in your living room on a budget - I hope this blog has helped :) 

Peace out :)

If you want to see the rest of my waterdroplet set please click here flickr

Please take a look at my youtube slideshow of water droplets youtube

feel free to ask any questions about my set up ☻


  1. wow wow wow, thank you so much for this wonderful tutorial!

  2. Aw your welcome - im really happy it helped - thanks for the comment :)

  3. I am unable to see any pics now and am very eager to take these type of pics i tried but they were not upto the mark so plzz help me