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Where to begin

In order to start photographing drops of water, you do not need a lot of equipment. Before you spend a lot of money on something that you would like to do, purchase a specialized installation as a magic solution for obtaining ideal drops of water, try to do everything manually to make sure that it is an interesting undertaking for you.

Fantastic photos with fancy drops and splashes that you see in photos on the Internet are obtained with a lot of experience, skills, lots of experiments. And this is a long process.

Fantastic drops. Photography instruction

You can start by using a pipette (or dropper) for drugs, and use only the built-in flash as a light source. But here it is desirable to have a macro lens. You will need at least a 100mm macro lens, a digital DSLR camera, external flashes, and certain electronics.

There are settings that synchronize the function of creating drops, turning on the flash and controlling shooting. This is, for example, The Mumford Time Machine and The Mumford Drip Kit.

The Mumford Time Machine is a programmable controller and intervalometer for special photographic effects in digital photography, which can of course be used not only for shooting drops, in general for time-lapse photography. It performs the function of releasing the shutter of a digital camera or turning on the electronic flash at regular intervals, at a specific time of the day, or in response to trigger events. These trigger events can be sound, light, moving, or electrical signals. The delay time can be from 10 microseconds or up to 24 hours.

When used as an interval meter, this controller can be programmed to receive exposures at specified intervals or at a specific time, and exposures can be limited only to day or night time.

The Mumford Drip Kit is an installation that is specifically designed to photograph water droplets and their impacts with surfaces. The Drip Kit uses the Time Machine controller described above and includes a control unit, an electric water valve, a dropper, mounting plates, a button to start the exposure. Using the Drop mode in Time Machine, you can control the number of drops, their size and time. The number of drops is set from 1 to 3, and each of the three drops can be of different sizes, and you can independently control the delay between drops 1 and 2 and the delay between drops 2 and 3.

If you find equipment with similar functionality for your shootings, this will significantly facilitate the technical side of work and allow you to engage in creativity and various experiments. But first, try taking photos with only a dropper and one external flash …

Fantastic drops. Photography instruction
The simplest configuration – use a medical dropper and an external flash


You can use different containers for spray. For example, you can use a black water tray, which measures 41 cm x 28 cm x 5.5 cm in depth. The height of the valve from the water is 48 cm, but this distance varies greatly each time during shooting. It is better to choose plastic in black in order to get clear reflections of drops.

Fantastic drops. Photography instruction
Example configuration for shooting drops. The camera is at an angle low enough to pick up reflection without showing the front and back of the water pan


On Time Machine, set the number of drops (usually 2 drops), the interval between the drops, the size of the drop and the flash delay to catch the drop at the desired stage. Then we activate the shutter button, which opens the shutter on the camera, drops two drops in a row, the flash fires, and then the shutter closes.

Typically, the exposure is 0.05 seconds, this is necessary to give time to complete the process. It slows down the speed of the flashes, not the shutter speed. The flashes fire at a speed of approximately 1/20 000-1 / 30 000 seconds. Photographing drops is best done in a very poorly lit room to avoid interference from ambient light. Thus, the image will only reflect what the flash captures.


Mostly water and milk are used. You can use supplements with water, such as glycerin, dissolved sugar, or guar gum. Glycerin and sugar will make the water a little cloudy, and guar gum is great for thickening water. It is sold in the food store in the food additives section and is used in food as a viscosifying thickener. Use it in an amount of about 1/8 teaspoon in 2 cups of warm water, mix well and strain several times using a coffee filter. You can also use xanthan gum, which is similar to guar gum, but you will need it in smaller quantities and it is easier to strain.

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