Once I had the idea of what I wanted to try and about an hour worth of setup I had a dinning table filled with the following gear:
- 3 fairly cheap flashes (Over kill? Probably, but all or nothing.)
- tracing paper used as a diffuser on each flash
- cheap wireless triggers
- a small poly-carbonate mirror used as the drop zone
- a gorilla pod
- Olympus OM-D EM-1
- Olympus 12-50mm in macro mode
- laptop connected to the EM-1 with Olympus Capture
- glass full of water
- eye dropper
- towels to cleanup the excessive splashes
The camera was next I'd only picked it up the day before and had only updated the firmware and played around a little with it but that bit was relatively easy enough, connected the wireless triggers to the hotshoe and everything came to life.
The software takes a bit of getting used to and will need a bit more work to see if it can be a little easier to use, or maybe setup a bit differently to make it easier, I have used Adobe Lightroom with my Canon 5D and it was so easy to work with, time will tell with the Capture software.
So after about 15 minuted of taking test shots and adjusting the power of the flashes to try and get a reasonably lit scene it was time to try and capture the drops, I was expecting this to take a bit of time out of all the expectations I had this one was the most accurate. Getting the timing right took a while and after about 80 shots I was getting close, but would either capture the drop after it hit and there were just ripples or just before it hit.
At this point I also started to notice that the flashes were not outputting the same amount of light each time if I didn't wait a minute or so between shots, trying to take 5 or so shots in a minute was causing each shot to be progressively underexposed, even with the flashes set to 1/2 and 1/4 power. So this slowed things down a little but probably a good thing as well as I could try and get the technique a little better.
So eventually after about 180 shots I managed to grab the first "splash" that inspired a bit more confidence. After another 30 of so shots I managed to get 3 or 4 more splashes and at that point decided to call it a night, and a have a quick go at processing the handful of images that looked interesting.
From looking at the images and going through the exercise there are a few things which I will hopefully learn for next time.
- macro lenses have a very, very shallow depth of field (this was almost another first for me having only taken 3 or 4 macro shots before while testing the lens)
- water drops are very hard to line up in the air and made to fall in the exact place where you focused
- setting up the lighting with moving and sometimes illusive subjects is not at all easy
- biggest one is probably more time, although it's a bit more interesting winging it and see what you can do, playing around a bit more would work out much better
In the process of getting to this image I noticed how the drop of water were beading and holding themselves together around the main drop I was aiming for, this lead me to try placing drops on the mirror purposefully to see what I could get, the image in the heading of this blog is the result.
As far as the actual image that came from the session goes, the depth of field is not right, the focus is to far back for where the drop fell. It would probably have been better with a more pure white background. Maybe shot more from above would define the splash "crown" like structure more. Using a glass full of water instead of a hard mirror would also have provided a cleaner background for the splash.
But if it was perfect now there would be no point trying again.