Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Freezing time...

In this blog/video tutorial I will show you how to use your camera flash to freeze water drops in motion.

The cool thing is, you don’t need to have thousands of dollars worth of gear to get great results.

You can watch my video, read the blog, or both :)

This is my first video, I realize that it is super long... I'll try and shorten them next time. If you have request, let me know!


All you HAVE to have is your camera, some liquid, and something to drop in the liquid.

I recommend having,

Camera, tripod, shutter release remote, off camera flash, glass container, black background, colorful paper/fabric, color gels, food coloring, etc…


Place your glass container on a table, you want the container as far away from your background as possible. If you are using fabric or wrapping paper, place it under the glass.

Mount your camera to your tripod and line the camera up level with the container

Use your longest lens and move it as far back as possible while making sure your subject takes up the majority of the frame

How to set up your camera-

You will need to turn your camera to the “M” setting, this allows full manual control. Start by putting your ISO on 200. Doing that depends on your camera model, you may hold down a dedicated ISO button and rotating your thumb wheel or you might have to press the info button twice and change it from that menu. If you cant figure it out, look it up :) Then put your shutter speed at 200, this means it is 1/200th of a second. If you are setting it on the back LCD screen, it might actually say 1/200. Set your aperture to F/8. Set your flash to 1/6th power. Last, set your white balance to flash, or the lightning bolt. If you are unsure how to set those settings, look it up on google or your manual.

Remember, these settings are what worked for me, in my house, with my lights, at my working distance… it might be different for you. Change the settings as necessary. I recommend changing your aperture to adjust the exposure.

Close your flash, take a picture, it should be almost all black. Your flash should be the only light source.

Next, you are going to want to have a IR remote or a shutter release cable, if you don’t have those, have someone else drop the object in the water. If you don’t have a friend or a shutter release, you might be able to get by with the self timer.

If using off camera flash-

Set your flash to remote or slave mode. Place them on either side of the glass and out of the frame, pointing towards your glass but not straight into your lens, about a foot from the glass. I set my popup flash to 1/64th and my two remote flashes to 1/32 or 1/16

Again, all situations are different, adjust as necessary.


You’re all set, start dropping stuff! Timing is critical, just keep trying.

Post processing-

Honestly, with these types of pictures, there is a lot that can be done in post processing. I shoot all my images in RAW (which I will most likely blog about later) which allows my to produce an image the way I like it, not the way my camera thinks it should look. I recommend you turn the contrast way up on these kind of shots and adjust the curves dramatically. I might talk more about this later.

-Feel free to ask me questions. I am passionate about what I do and I can talk about it all day!