Photographing Splashing Droplets


When doing those cool liquid droplet splash pictures, you need to time not only the camera, but the droplets themselves. This project takes you through how to build the system to time the droplets and work with camera axe to get the right pictures. PCB files and schematics are available. As you can see, the results are quite nice.

13 thoughts on “Photographing Splashing Droplets

  1. BiOzZ, doing this with hand-eye coordination sort of works for a single drop (although when I tried this I was frustrated by my apparent lack of coordination). The real place this solenoid system excels is colliding one drop into another. You only have about 5 ms of time to get this correct. I don’t know many humans who can precisely time two drops and then trigger a flash with 5 ms timing precision. I probably took 1000 drop pictures before this system and only 2 were a picture of colliding drops. With this setup I had about a 95% success rate.

    Buzzkill, I don’t think CHDK with motion detection would work. It’s not fast enough.

  2. @Maurice 5ms? nooo in water you have a good half second window to capture any part of the water droplets … in milk it must be longer

    but it would be hard on a point and shoot CHDK camera because of shutter lag .. you should use a DSLER for this

    some things you do need some sort of system (like this shot i used a transistor – 555 -relay system ) but waterdroplets are easy

    and besides using a machine to do the work for you sort of kills the artistic part of it you know?

  3. I did pretty accurate measurements here and with a single drop in 2% milk I’m quite sure the interesting part of the drop only lasts 200 ms (+-20ms) when the drop starts 18 inches high. The 5 ms figure was the interesting time of one drop colliding with another drop. This time was much more difficult to measure, but I’m pretty sure it’s in the range of 5 ms to 15 ms.

    I see you changed your view about artistic relevance. You are entitled to your opinions, but I’m quite sure many famous artists have a very open mind as to what tools they can use to create their art.

  4. well my measurements are different

    the artistic appeal as a photo it self is none … its like taking a point and shoot and taking a picture of a chair and taking a picture of a chair with a fully manual 35MM with no light meter … one is the skill of the artist and one is the skill of the camera

    its like asking someone what 3*9/6 is and they say 4.5 off the top of there head or they use a calculator … one is a smart person and the other is a smart calculator

    i own a camera axe and i find any pic i take with it to be for my own amusement or for the “oooooo”‘s and “ahhhhhhh”‘s of my friend im sure every professional in the wold would agree with me when i say there is no real skill involved in taking those pictures

    now if you made the device your self and programmed it your self that takes skill and that is a skilled shot

  5. @BiOzZ

    You could take your argument to the extreme and say that the artistic appeal of any photo taken with a modern 35MM camera is none. After all, everyone knows that REAL photographers mix their own silver photo emulsions, painstakingly coat glass plates, and use handmade pinhole cameras to capture images. The artistry is in how you are able to get your subject to stand still for hours while the exposure is taking place.

  6. Even with hand-mixed photographic emulsions and manually ground lenses and whatever other things you wish to use to make it harder for you to actually take any photos, you can still be an utterly lousy photographer and create dull, forgettable images. Technical skill does not equal artistic ability! Focussing manually won’t make up for lousy composition.

    Similarly, all the most amazing kit in the world won’t help you make masterpieces if you’re talentless. I should know ;-)

    It is what you take a photo of, not how.

  7. @BiOzZ The technology leaves less to chance, giving you more consistent results so you can focus on dialing in the other variables, such as lighting, etc.

    Btw, I check out your deviant art page: cool stuff! I really like that mercury one, it goes great with the dark carbon theme on my notebook.

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