Making Waves

Well, drops, really.  Water drops.  From a bag.  Hanging from the dining room light. Dripping into a pan below.  Where I waited, camera in hand, to try to freeze those drops as they struck the water.  It’s harder than one would think.

The weather was less-than-ideal this last weekend.  Rain.  Wind.  Rain/snow mix.  The kind of weather that makes indoor activities the preferred activities.  I recently read a tutorial about how to photograph water drops.  A quick trip to Michael’s resulted in some cool paper (I purchased a package of solid construction paper sheets in a variety of colors and an assortment of scrap booking pages in a number of colors/patterns).  I gathered the other things I needed from around the house:  gallon-sized bag, large rubber bands, glass pan, tape, and a box.  I was in business!


The exact tutorial I used was through Clickin’ Moms, and I believe you have to be a member to view it.  If, by chance, you are, check it out here.  If you’re not, here’s another tutorial.


Since there are tutorials out there, I’m not going to exhaustively explain my approach (though I wish I had taken a photo of my set up so you could see that). Next time.  Because there will definitely be a next time.  It was crazy fun.  Instead, I’ll just share about basic set up as well as a few thoughts.


Imagine this:  water goes in the bag.  Bag is partially filled with water and hung from dining room light using rubber bands (very Macgyver-esque.  The original Macgyver…not that new knock-off).  Pan is partially filled with water and set on black construction paper. Box is set up against a short end of the pan and a piece of colored paper is taped to the side of the box facing the pan (that’s where the drops pull their color from).  Camera can be mounted in any number of ways, depending upon your preference:  hand-held, tripod, stack of books.


The tutorial I followed recommended taking the photos at night in a darkened room.  I’ll have to give that a try some time.  I actually took these during the day, with the dining room window behind me.  In many instances I was close enough that my body blocked the light, but there were a few times (the photo above, for instance) that the sun briefly (very briefly) came out and I stepped slightly aside so the light would actually shine on the colored paper.

Play with it.  Play with the whole thing.  That’s the point.



After setting things up (the water-filled bag should be dangling above the water-filled pan), I poked a small hole in the bag with a pin (that’s pin…not pen.  You want a dripper, not a gusher).  Once the dripping starts you manually focus (auto focus will just struggle, struggle, struggle) on the spot where the water is hitting the pan and start shooting.  Oh, and make sure you use your flash!  Did I mention that?  The flash will freeze the motion of the drop.

I used in-camera flash as I do not have a separate flash.  I also hand-held (ISO 200, f/16, SS 1/250).  I started off with my tripod, but it just wasn’t working for me so I set it aside.



I put black construction paper under the pan, but, in hindsight, that  dulled some of the colors.  Next time I’ll put a corresponding color beneath the pan (so, if I have red in the background, I’ll put red under the pan).  I also realized that both of my 9 x 13 inch pans are rather beat up, which came through in some of the photos.  I also had to be careful where I was shooting so that the writing on the bottom of the pan didn’t show through.  I had to remove “oven proof” from a couple of photos.

I also didn’t manage to capture a big “sploosh”.  That will require playing with the size of hole in the bag that the water was dripping out of, as well as how far away the bag was from the pan.



The tutorials weren’t kidding when they said you have to take a whole lotta photos to get a few good ones.  I took around 200.  You read that correctly.  And this is all I’ve got to show for my efforts.

But, it was fun.  A good rainy day activity for the grown up kid.


10 thoughts on “Making Waves

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