How to Photograph a Drop of Water Without Dying of Despair

We have all admired some photo of a drop of water. Water can be a beautiful object of photography. Its brightness, its transparency and the unpredictable shapes it takes when it bounces make it the object of desire for many, professionals and amateurs alike.

Would you like to be able to capture a drop of water in its moment of maximum splendor and freedom? Today I am going to explain to you in 8 simple steps how you can carry out this photographic technique and get a drop of water without dying of despair.

Why is it so difficult to capture a drop of water?

Landing of a Drop of Water

I do not hide from you that photographing a drop of water (doing it well) is no small feat, it can be one of the most difficult photographic jobs, especially for someone who is still starting out in photography. Water is transparent, and your camera has a hard time focusing on things that are transparent or have no color (have you ever tried to focus through window glass?).
On the other hand, nothing moves faster or wilder than water. It is unpredictable and its movement is very fast like prey fleeing from its captor.
If you want to catch a drop of water there is only one way: be you even faster. Do you want to know how? Go for it.

Necessary material

For capture the bounce of a drop of water we will need the following material:

  • Obviously, SLR camera.
  • A strong light source: window on a nice sunny day, external flash, softbox, or any strong light source.
  • Cardboard that will serve as the background.
  • A full glass of water. to overflow
  • Some object from which the water will drip into the glass: it can be a bottle of water with a small hole, a very damp cloth, or anything that helps us retain the water and let it drip slowly.
  • Tripod

Photograph a drop of water in 8 steps

Step 1: The first thing is to set up our small and improvised studio. We will place the background cardboard and in front of it we will put our glass filled with water until it overflows.
Advice: In order not to end up with the whole scene flooded with water, I recommend that you put the glass in turn inside a bowl or wide container. In this way the splashes of water will not reach the table or the floor.

Step 2: You can produce the continuous dripping of water in various ways: leaky bottle, wet cloth, etc. In fact, I recommend that you experiment with any method that comes to mind. In my case, the water-soaked cloth method works well for me. You’ll need to hold this down somehow, so either get a friend to hold it for you, or find a way to hold it securely so it drips right on top of the glass of water. And now comes the important part, the camera settings.

Step 3: If you have a remote release, select the remote release mode on your camera (if you don’t have it, no problem, skip to step 4), because this way you get more precision and the camera shakes less.

Step 4: Force the flash or prepare your external flash or light source to have the scene well lit at the time of the shot.

Step 5: Mount the camera on a tripod. It will be useful for step 6.


Step 6: Now make a test focusing directly on the point where the drop of water falls. Although the camera has autofocus, please do not use it. No, poop!! With the autofocus mode it is very easy for your camera to go wrong and wrongly focus on the edge of the glass, the background, or any other unwanted element. If you want to do it right you have to manually focus yourself, take the focus measurement and leave it there. Remember, the focus point is lost if the camera moves, so in order not to lose that focus calculation the camera has to stay on exactly the same point all the time. That’s why I asked you in the previous step to get out your tripod. (On the right I attach a photo that I took poorly focused on purpose so you can see an example with poor results. Click to enlarge).

Step 7: Then select the Manual mode (in most SLR cameras it has an “M” symbol) and set the shutter speed to 1/1000 and the aperture to f/8.
Trick: The rate of fire has to be high in order to “freeze” the rebound of the water, however, there is no predetermined and exact speed, you have to try. You are supposed to use external flash or powerful light so you can experiment with very high speeds. But experiment all the time. And learn to master the Manual Mode with this mega guide that we have prepared for you, so that you lose your fear.

Step 8: Shoot. Shoot and shoot. Try to capture the meeting of the drop of water with the glass. You will see that it is difficult at first, but after a few photos you will begin to synchronize your shot better and better. It is very important to synchronize the shot with the moment of the rebound of the drop.

Below is a series of tips and tricks that will help you achieve impressive results:

  • The background card can be white, but if you can use a colored one, better, preferably blue or yellow, although any color will work well.
  • If the photos come out dark, try lowering the shutter speed. For example, if at 1/1000 it comes out dark, try 1/600, and so on little by little until you find the right point. Be careful, if you slow down too much at the end you won’t be able to freeze the drop.
  • If instead of water you dare to use another colored liquid, for example milk, you will obtain spectacular results. The color makes an impact, but try to make the background a different color.
  • If you have a Macro lens use it. you will succeed
  • Don’t shoot from high above. Try lateral, centered perspectives. And above all, don’t limit yourself, shoot horizontally and vertically.
  • Do not neglect the issue of focus. It is very frustrating to believe that you have it well focused and once on the computer discover that the photos came out out of focus.

As you can see, getting a good photo of a drop of water may seem somewhat difficult, but I assure you that as soon as you seriously consider it and have the preparations as described above, you will obtain magnificent results. The most important thing is to take all the time you need. No hurry. If you have questions, leave them in the comments below, and if you encourage and get a photo of a drop of water, upload it to the wall of our Facebook page..

As always, if you liked this article I would appreciate a vote or recommendation.