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Water droplet photography, part two

Once again I will warn you that setting up for creating water droplet photos can be addicting. The variability of water drops and possible color combinations using different gels to get totally different looks can keep you occupied for days! See the set up and gear I used to create these images in Water droplet photography, part one.


A gold foil mottled background with a red gel.

Backgrounds can make a huge difference in the look of your water droplet images. In some ways I feel that the more simple the better. Savage paper backgrounds are clean and come in a variety of pastel or vibrant colors. Simple backgrounds allow the star of the show to shine. With that said, I also have played with some very busy backgrounds that were fun too (see above). The image above was made with blue gels on all lights except the background which was red. The water and part of the crown reflect the red background.

Red Savage paper background with red gel.

The same color palette was used in the image above. The speedlight gels were changed as well as moving to an orange color paper background. It is slightly underexposed to get very rich red color. The camera is moved close to the scene by using an extension tube. The drops were let go very close together and the tube was tilted at a slight angle which caused the drops to be less symmetrical.

Color gels

A deep rich magenta/purple color was achieved by mixing different gels with different color paper.

Colored gels can really make your water droplet photos sing. Mix and match your gels to make analogous, tertiary or complimentary colors. Thinking about the color wheel can help you create pleasing palettes that can be warm or cool or anywhere in between. The speedlights had cyan gels applied and the studio lights had a blue gel. The background had its own gel and was feathered to give a gradient across the reflection.

What do you want to accomplish with your color? Analogous colors are next to each other on the color wheel. They are often found in nature and are pleasing and calming to the eye. Complimentary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel and can create some screaming color that will make you photos jump! There are many different color schemes with which to work. To really rock your imagery some study of color can be a huge help.


Streamers are caused by adding studio flash to the lighting.

This image was a bit warmer with a gold tone backdrop and cyan and blue gels on the flashes. Don’t be afraid to put multiple color gels on your flashes.

Here’s a pro tip. You can use Xanthan Gum powder to thicken your water. It will hold the drops together a bit better for more beautiful crowns. You can find some tutorials on the process by doing a search on the web. It is a bit of a chore involving a blender and straining with a cheesecloth.


The reason I enjoy working with the Pluto Trigger is being able to control the multiple droplets in a consistent manner. A heads-up here, consistent doesn’t mean exactly repeatable! Every single attempt at making a water droplet image that was a keeper required many frames to be fired.

Water drop photography is awesome! The variables are endless with color of gels, speed, size of drop, flash duration, interval between drops, thickness of water, backdrop … and on it goes. Now you know why I enjoy making water drop photos. Hope you have fun with it too.

If you have any questions r comments let me know!

Yours in creative Photography, Bob

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