by Christopher Algar Published 01/04/2017
Freezing the action
I use two Canon flashes set on Manual mode to 1/64 power (the lowest setting) to light my water-drop collisions. This gives a flash duration of around 1/8,000 second (I think) to limit subject movement as much as possible. It also limits the amount of light available, of course, but I am able to achieve an aperture of f14 at ISO 200 or ISO 400. I hold the shutter open on BULB while the exposure takes place in the dark to prevent ambient light affecting the exposure.
Water-drop collisions taken with a white background and diffused lighting tend to be monochrome and lacking in contrast. The situation can be improved by adding coloured dye to the water in the drop reservoirs. One advantage of having more than one nozzle is that a different colour can be used with each. I have always used food dyes and judged the amount to add simply by eye.
Another method of adding colour is to put filters over the flashes. As such filters are not going to be put in front of the camera lens and therefore do not have to be optically perfect, I just printed some out on acetate sheet and cut them to size. My preference is for a blue filter on one flash and a red and yellow one on the other. Rather than direct my flashes straight at the water surface, I pointed them at reflectors behind and above where the collisions took place.
A third way of adding colour is to print out multicolour reflectors on photo paper. As water-drops may land on these reflectors, it will prolong their life if they are sprayed with a waterproofing compound (if the ink is not already waterproof). I have had good results by combining coloured water with multicolour reflectors.
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