Drip, Drip, Drip

Author: Amy Horn

1/160, F14, ISO 100 Captured with hand-eye coordination.

1/160, F14, ISO 100 Captured with hand-eye coordination.

Sometimes shooting outdoors just doesn’t work with my schedule, so I started an indoor project of photographing water. From splashes to pours to colliding water drops, no two images are alike. And I love it! Here are several photographs from my most recent water drop collision photo shoot captured with a Time Machine (programmable controller) and an automated drip kit. I find it interesting how impatient I can get at a grocery store or waiting for a package to be delivered, but with my Time Machine, drip kit, a few hot shoe flash units, backdrop, colored liquid and my camera; I can entertain myself for hours and stop only to review focus or visit with my family.

When I first became interested in water drops, I started with a baggie of water hanging from my kitchen cabinets and used hand-eye coordination to time the drop. I did capture a few keepers, but my current setup increases the quantity of successful photos. This first photo is of my setup. The Time Machine connects to my camera, multiple flash units, drip kit and a shutter trigger. The controller is programmable for 1-3 drops including the size of the drop, the intervals, and the iPhone 2015-06-30 13.40.26flash lag. Generally, the shutter speed is around ½ second and the flashes are at 1/64 power. I began with a single drop and studied the sequence of drops. Then, I added the magical second drop. Every image is unique. The most significant difference in the images come from a difference in the background. In all the images, the flashes point at the background which reflects in the drop. My backgrounds included old photos, random sheets of color and white foam core with colored water for drops. Add a little post processing (cropping, white balance, clarity) and this is what is possible. I love the responses I have received from these images, whether people see them as glass sculptures or identify a face in the drops each response is as unique as the image.

1/2 sec, F/16, ISO 100. Captured with Time Machine.

1/2 sec, F/16, ISO 100. Captured with Time Machine.


From simple to complex setups, images can be captured indoors when your schedule does not allow for outdoor shooting. But, if you still like the outdoors, maybe you can find imagery in your garden. What is important is to keep using your camera and your creative vision.


Amy Horn is a professor of photography at Northern Arizona University and teaches Photo 101, Photo 102, iPhoneography, iPad Workflow and Flash Basics for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops. To see her current schedule view ahpw.org or horndesigns.com.


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