Photography Tutorials

Water Drop Photography | EVERY STEP from start to print

We take a look at the amazing world of water drop photography. I show you how I created this beautiful piece of art from the original concept through to the stunning final print.

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Welcome to the world of water drop photography.

Type a quick search of ‘Water Drop’ or #waterdrop and you will quickly see just how popular this area of macro photography has become. I have written before about why shooting these kinds of images improves your skills as a photographer, but that does not explain why people love them so much.

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Freezing a moment in time  

Shooting water drop photography highlights the pure essence of photography, capturing a moment in time. We see thousands of water drops every day, but rarely pause to consider their architecture and movement. During a particularly heavy rain storm we may marvel at the size of drops bouncing off the ground, but the rest of the time we take it for granted or do not notice. Freezing this moment forces us to appreciate the beauty, complexity and symmetry of a most regular occurrence and brings into sharp focus the importance of water in our lives.

All about colour

The addition of vivid colours, opaque liquids and well controlled lighting, adds drama to the scene and gives the images that ‘wow’ factor that is becoming increasingly rare in today’s world.

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More than a photography tutorial 

This is a bit more than a photography tutorial. I wanted to provide an overview of what it is all about. If you want to give it a try for yourself then please click the link above to watch my in depth tutorial.

Photography Blogs

My video photography blogs are designed to entertain and document how I go about capturing my work. If it provides photography tips and inspiration along the way then please share it with your friends so more people can benefit from the content. If you enjoyed this photography vlog I would really appreciate it if you subscribed to the channel so you can come along for the journey.

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How to do Smoke Photography

Smoke Photography made easy.

Create some beautiful, fun and abstract smoke photography using these very simple methods.

In this tutorial we look at how to photograph smoke to create some striking images that are jam packed with colour. Smoke Photography has an artistic and abstract feel freezing a moment in time that is often not given any attention. This is very similar to water drop Photography. If you have not seen water drop Photography check out the playlist below.

Water Drop Photography

Smoke Photography is easy and can be achieved with a normal camera. No special macro lens is required although, if you do own one, it can give a different feel to the smoke images that you create.

Gear required to photograph smoke

The gear you will need does not form a long list and many of us will already have the items lying around. Firstly you need a camera. Ideally it will be a camera that can fire an external flash. You will also need an external flash with the ability to fire it off-camera. Wireless triggers can now be picked up very cheaply. See the link below for all the required gear.

How to produce the smoke trails

Smoke can be created in a number of ways but I use Sandlewood incense sticks. They smell a bit but produce a nice constant smoke and are relatively safe. You then need a desk lamp to shine at the smoke to assist the camera to focus although the flash will light the smoke for the picture. If you are using a studio flash then the modelling lamp will be fine.

Photo Background

The images work best with a clean black background. Any kind of black material is fine but pop backgrounds are cheap and effective. You will also need something block the light from the flash hitting both the background and the lens as it flashes from left to right. A piece of card will do the trick just as well as more expensive barn door attachments.

Camera Settings

The images will work best with the camera in manual mode. Shutter speed should be set to the flash sync speed, this is often around 1/200 sec. An aperture of f/8 or f/11 will work well to keep the smoke sharp and in focus. ISO at 100. In the video I had the flash power set to 1/4 power but this will be dependant on the distance between the smoke and flash.

With everything set, go ahead and shoot the smoke trails. Waft your hand around to move the smoke to generate some interesting patterns in your images.

Smoke Photography is a good antidote to the winter weathe, but is also fun and creative. The abstract images you create will grab people's attention making them look twice at you work.

In the video we go into the post processing of the images very briefly using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.

Gear

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Water Drop Photography - The Secret to Perfect Drop Mixture

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Next level water drop photography

In this video I’m going to show you how to make the perfect drop mixture for your water drop photography.

I am probably best known for my water drop photography. I love it, many of you love it so it's likely that every now and again it will pop up on my channel and today is one of those occasions. I now have a series of videos dedicated to water drop photography:

In this video I answer a question many of you have asked me and that is what do you add to liquid to give it that glass like effect. Well the secret is xanthan gum and I'm going to show my technique for mixing up the perfect water drop photography solution.

Like I said before you can use various liquids but I find you gain greatest control by using xanthan gum. Xanthan gum can be bought very cheaply form health food stores and will last you a long time because you only need a very small amount to thicken the water..

You want to start with around one pint of warm or hot water. Xanthan gum really does not like dissolving in water so using warm water helps it along. Take about half a teaspoon of Xanthan gum and sprinkle it into the water. Stir well and then wait. Much of the gum will stick together and refuse to dissolve but I find leaving it overnight allows the maximum amount to dissolve.

If there are any lumps left in the mixture I will sieve them out. If your mixture is really thick you just need to water it down to get the required consistency.

Consistency

You can play around with this but you do not want it to be too thick or it will not come out the dropper at the right time because it will stick in the nozzle. A consistency like melted butter or olive oil is around where you need to be.

This is then my base mixture for a shoot. During the shoot I will the add colour to the liquid in the form of food colouring to provide different types of shots and the addition of milk will add an interesting opacity to the liquid that can really add some extra interest to the shot.

This then pours into the SplashArt reservoir ready to create some beautiful water drop collisions.

I tend to go all out and make extra mixture to fill my water bath, but again, you can experiment with this.

Please subscribe to the channel for new videos every Wednesday and every Sunday.

Water Drop Photography Edit Session

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Post-processing a water drop photography shoot.

In this video I go through the post processing of the images shot in the previous video where I cover how to use the SplashArt 2 water dropper to shoot water drop photography.

https://www.firstmanphotography.com/tutorials/water-drop-photography-splashart-dropper

Post processing or editing is a vital part of the photography process and when it comes to water drop photography things are no different. The process starts when importing the images to a computer. In the video I already had the images on the computer thanks to shooting the session with the camera tethered. This is an extremely useful way of shooting studio photography as it allows you to view the images full screen rather than relying on the cameras own screen. Instantly being able to see all the detail of an image is a clear advantage.

How to do water drop photography - https://www.firstmanphotography.com/tutorials/water-drop-photography

With the images already on the computer it is then a case of assessing the images and discarding the ones that are not useable or simply not to your standard. Adobe Lightroom offers a number of options to rank and rate your images. My workflow involves initially flagging the images I am happy with and then making a second pass to score the images using the star ratings. This quickly highlights which images from a shoot I will editing, speeding up my workflow.

I then enter into the editing process. With water drop photography, using Adobe Lightroom water drop images from the same shoot can be made to look very different. This comes mainly through the powerful colour adjustments that Lightroom offers when working with RAW images.

The video goes through the editing of the water drop photos with my editing techniques and workflow being explained. The workflow is very similar in any photo shoot so can be applied to almost any type of photography.

Get a free trial of Adobe Lightroom - Click here.

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Water Drop Photography - How to Use the SplashArt Dropper

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Capture water drop collisions using the SplashArt Dropper. 

Water drop photography is a very popular form of photography thanks to the amazing moments in time that it captures. In a previous video I detailed how to do water drop photography using a basic setup with standard household items. The video also touched on how to use an electronic water drop system called the Splashart dropper.

https://www.firstmanphotography.com/tutorials/water-drop-photography

water drop photography

 

Since that video many of you have been sharing your images and have also invested your time and money into water drop photography and purchased the Splashart dropper. Following that there have been numerous requests for another video detailing how to use the SplashArt Drop System. This video answers that question.

The Splashart Dropper can be purchased here.

The system has a water bath that produces drops through a solenoid and nozzle. The release of the drops is controlled through an electronic control panel.

water drop photography

The SplashArt dropper uses an electric control panel that has four control knobs. The first knob controls the size of the first drop. The second knob covers the time between the two drops. The third controls the size of the second drop and the bottom knob controls the delay between pressing the activation button and when the camera is fired.

Whilst much of water drop photography is automated there is still a large amount of creativity and patience required. It is a matter of trial and error and the creativity comes from your composition, lighting, colour combinations and your post processing. Follow the link below to see how I post-process my water drop photography images.

https://www.firstmanphotography.com/tutorials/how-to-edit-water-drop-photos

If you are shooting water drop photography be sure to follow me on Instagram and share your images every Wednesday for #waterdropwednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the YouTube channel and take your photography to the next level.

Macro Photography Tutorial - Using Budget Gear

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An introduction to macro photography using affordable gear.

In this video tutorial we give you an introduction to macro photography and show you how you can start capturing beautiful macro images without breaking the bank.

Macro photography has a reputation for being expensive as it introduces the need for specialised gear and expensive lenses. Whilst a dedicated macro lens can be extremely useful it is not the only way we can get in close and magnify the micro.

A number of options exist for capturing macro photography with the gear you already own and most cameras built in the last few years will have some kind of macro mode. Many compact cameras, phones and DSLR kit lenses have the ability to focus very close to your subject. This is essentially what achieving macro photography shots is about.

There is much theory out there about what true macro photography is, where you achieve at least 1:1 magnification (where the actual size of the subject is the same as the projected image on the sensor). Often this only serves to discourage people from getting into this exciting world. Very simply we want to magnify small things and make them look larger than life in our final image.

All camera lenses have a minimum focus distance. If you get too close to the subject the lens will no longer focus. This is exactly the same as to how your eyes work. If you hold your finger very close to your face your eyes will not be able to focus on it. Macro lenses are specially designed to focus in very close but there are different, cheaper, types of gear that we can also use to reduce this minimum focus distance.

Let’s discuss a couple of options.

A macro photography reversing ring is a very cheap piece of kit and attaches to the filter threads of your lens. Once the lens is detached it can be reattached the opposite way. It then allows you to focus much closer and magnify your subject. However the electrical connection to the lens is broken so you will not be able to adjust the aperture and any image stabilisation the lens has will not work along with auto-focus. Likewise, if your lens is focus by wire, manual focus will also not work. You then have to focus by manually moving further away or move in closer. With some lenses the aperture can be locked before detaching the lens. Do this by setting the aperture as required and then hold down the depth of field preview button whilst detaching the lens. This should not cause any damage to your lens or camera but is not recommended by camera manufacturers. Wide zoom angles of the lens will mean more magnification and zoomed in will show smaller in the frame. This is opposite to when mounted normally.

macro photography

Macro extension tubes are an attachment that adds space between your lens and camera. They have no optics so do not alter image quality but allow closer focusing since the lens is moved away from the focal plane. This allows you to turn many lenses into a macro lens. It works especially well with prime lenses like a 50mm or 85mm. Many macro extenders have electronic contacts so will still have aperture and stabilisation options and auto-focus. Macro extender tubes can also be coupled with a dedicated macro lens to get even closer. This is an excellent option to test the waters of macro photography but is slightly more expensive than the reverse ring. Macro extenders are very simple pieces of kit so please do not waste your money buying the Canon or Nikon versions when £20 versions from Neewer do the job just as well. See link below.

Macro Extension Tube Set for Canon Mount

macro photography tutorial

Armed with this gear it is then a case of shooting and seeing what interesting images can be found.  Apply all the usual rules of composition and you will soon be capturing some great images. For ideas of what to shoot with macro photography please subscribe to my channel where there will be two more videos in this series. The second will be shooting images using a more advanced set up, including a macro lens and a macro flash, and the third will show how to do focus stacking.

In the meantime check out my video on how to do water drop photography that is an exciting use of macro photography. Water Drop Photography Tutorial

Follow me on Instagram - http://instagram.com/adamkarnacz

How to Edit Water Drop Photos

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Take your water drop photographs to the next level.

Welcome to the world of water drop photography. In this video we show you how to edit water drop photos in Adobe Lightroom to improve your images quickly and easily.

Capturing these water drop images in camera is the first stage. View the tutorial here: http://www.firstmanphotography.com/tutorials/water-drop-photography

If you are interested in taking water drop photos or have already caught the bug there is a nice little community going on Instagram at #waterdrop. Follow me now at Instagram - http://instagram.com/adamkarnacz

Water drops are clearly an area of photography that people are loving and there are some great images going up. However there are a few key elements that could improve the images I am seeing. Nice straight lines on your water bath is a must but most other things can be corrected or improved in post production, the issues are:

  • Exposure - Get you exposure up so it’s nice and bright.
  • Contrast - Add more. Boom!
  • Saturation - These images are all about colour!!!!
  • Clarity - This is the key to your image popping off the screen/print

Hopefully this will help you take your images to the next level and I look forward to seeing what you create. Please tag me in your shot on Instagram for me to view them.

Good luck and happy shooting.

Water Drop Photography Tutorial

Learn How To Shoot Water Drop Photography.

Welcome to the world of water drop photography. In this video we show you how to capture water drops using both a basic set up and a more complex setup using the SplashArt 2 dropper system.

I first started shooting water drop photography a few years ago when I noticed a few popping up on Flickr. I was instantly struck by these amazing moments of nature that we see so often in our lives but never have the chance to study. Fascinated, I decided to see what it took to capture these images and I felt I could produce something original using my own lighting ideas and composition.

Having set up, using something very close to the basic setting featured in the video, my first capture of a water drop was extremely satisfying. I was instantly hooked. I quickly upgraded my equipment and bought the SplashArt 2 kit so I could produce and capture water drop collisions repeatedly. Once in the arsenal it left me more time to play with my lighting setup, composition and drop consistency. In water drop photography changing the consistency of the liquid has a direct result on the final image. Milk is slightly thicker so behaves differently and the different surface tension produces different looking drops. I eventually took this to an extreme adding Xanthan Gum to my liquid. This thickens and smooths the liquid to the point where the final drops have a crystal like appearance.

water drop photography
water drop photography

Understanding the theory of water drop photography is key to giving you the ability to fully explore the creative possibilities. Normally we freeze action by increasing shutter speed and this works perfectly in most conditions. However in water drop photography the action is frozen with the flash. When using flash to light a scene the shutter speed is limited by the flash sync speed of your camera. On most DSLR's this limits you to about 1/200th or 1/250th second which is not quick enough to freeze a water drop. The flash burst is much faster than this so exposes the scene so quickly that it freezes the action. Further, Speedlite flash guns discharge their light faster at lower powers so the lower the power you can manage to use the better your image will be frozen.

After some experimentation I settled on using 1/32 flash power. The shutter speed does not really matter but I set it at 1/200 to avoid any ambient light sneaking into the image. Aperture needs to be as high as possible to ensure all the drop is in sharp focus but needs to be balanced with ISO to obtain a well exposed image that is not too noisy. The majority of my shots have used f/11 and an ISO of around 400.

water drop photography
water drop photography

Hopefully this will arm you with the skills and knowledge required to start shooting your own images. To move things on further you can add extra flash guns and multiple droppers to ensure that every image will be unique.

Once you have captured the images, post-processing them can take them to the next level. I share my secrets in this video - https://www.firstmanphotography.com/tutorials/how-to-edit-water-drop-photos

Once you have created some water drop photography I would love to see some of your images. Please post them to Flickr and add them to the First Man Photography group and I will feature some of my favourites.

https://www.flickr.com/groups/2838380@N23/

For a more detailed guide on how to use the SplashArt drop system follow the link below.

https://www.firstmanphotography.com/tutorials/water-drop-photography-splashart-dropper

Splash Art 2 Kit