A Simplified Guide to Water Drop Photography

waterdrop on the black

Have you been looking at incredibly captured water drop photos and wondering how you can master the art of doing the same? If yes, then we’ve got you covered.

This ultimate beginner’s guide to water drop photography explores how to design a water drop artificially, create an ideal background, perfect timing, and the essential ideal water drop photography kit to get you started.

Waterdrop photography is an often thrilling concept. To get the perfect images, you need the right equipment, ideal timing, appealing background, and use appropriate camera settings.

This technique presents a ton of creative avenues for photographers to come up with magnificent images. You can do this pretty much anywhere, whether it’s raining or not.

How to Do Water Drop Photography

Design the Drop

colourful water drop background

Unless you are shooting natural water drops, you need to start by choosing the surface where you’ll create the drops.

Brightly colored surfaces, mainly bowls, are the best as they add vibrancy to the image. Other attractive surfaces to experiment with include a spoon, a glass counter-top, and an ashtray.

Clean the surfaces to eliminate any fingerprints, fur, or dust as they will interfere with the final image quality.

Now that the surface is set-up, you will need an eyedropper or a jar with a tap for creating the droplets. The latter is a better choice as it frees your hand, thus allowing you to focus your attention on shooting.

Holding the eyedropper at different heights above the ground gives you different water droplet shapes and sizes. The only way to perfect this is by experimenting until you achieve the right one.

But generally, the closer you hold the dropper to the water bowl, the shallower the droplet, and it will appear crown-shaped. On the other hand, the further you hold it, the deeper the droplet. An ideal height for a beginner is between 0.3m to 0.6m above the surface.

Cloudy water provides a consistent, aesthetically appealing background, and it also absorbs light better than clear water.

Thus, it is helpful for you to add a bit of milk to your water to achieve this. Once you have perfected the water droplet photography, you may experiment with other liquids such as milk, glycerin, food coloring, red wine, juice, etc.

Natural water droplets are easy to find everywhere. Although they can be challenging to shoot because of the uncontrolled environment, they too are an interesting subject to photograph. If you are keen on this, you may photograph raindrops, morning dew, water splash in a waterfall, etc.

Choose an Ideal Background

water drop on a blue background bowl

Your choice of background is really critical in the overall appearance of the final images. If you opt to use a clear bowl, choose a vibrant scene.

A brightly colored or patterned paper, flowers, leaves, etc. background adds the much-needed pop of color. Although the background will appear blurred in the final image, it creates refractions and reflections, which add the much-needed drama to the final image.

Gather All the Necessary Equipment Needed

While there’s no universal rule on the right water drop photography equipment to use, some basic things are critical. These are a tripod, macro lens, and a camera with quick shutter speeds.

A tripod makes sure that the water droplet is in focus and within frame throughout the shooting.

For perfect shots, a camera with fast shutter speeds enables you to capture the moment perfectly. Excellent water droplet photography is mainly about capturing the moment at the perfect time.

The macro lens is designed for capturing tiny subjects at a close range. By focusing at a very close range, they help you capture the subject in great detail.

As you focus on the droplet, capture just the required amount of background. Even though you can always crop the image later, reducing the image size and the droplet aspect ratio interferes with the quality of the final image.

Flashguns are not mandatory, but if you want to minimize noise on the photo, get one more light source. Flashguns are also ideal because they can be manually triggered. For even better results, use a flash-gun that supports high-speed sync.

Set the Ideal Camera Settings

Dandelion with drops of water in a beautiful tonality

Set the camera on the tripod at a perfect angle to shoot. For perfect shots, set it up such that the water drop will always fall within the center of the frame, and the background’s reflection on the surface is well-reflected.

Turn the camera to Manual Mode to ensure that the flash doesn’t keep changing the exposure. The perfect exposure depends on your vision, but 1/64 or 1/128 works just fine in most cases if you are using the flash. Next, focus on the part where the drops will be hitting the surface. You can have a trial shoot or any other tiny object to help you set up the focus.

When it comes to ISO, 100 is the ideal setting, but if you need additional light, you may use 200. For cases where you are manually creating the drops, the perfect shutter speed is 1/250, and this should be synchronized with the flashgun’s.

This speed might seem slow but remember that, in this case, it is the flash that freezes the motion, not the shutter speed. Besides, use a wide aperture and take your shots from as close to the surface as possible.

Once you are done with the set-up, confirm that your focus is still the same and look around to ensure that your equipment is protected from the splashes. Taking a few shots will confirm whether you are still in focus.

Master the Right Timing

water drop photography

Timing is the hardest part of this photography genre, and even so, it is the most crucial thing. But don’t panic. It would be best if you keep practicing until you get the perfect shot. When you start shooting, try to take as many pictures as possible.

As long as the set-up is right, keep shooting. Review the images after every few shots and adjust the timing accordingly. You are bound to take many poor pictures, but you might just capture the perfect photo.

Do Some Post-Production Editing

In most cases, you will spend time in post-production editing. The editing helps you eliminate unwanted background noise, correct the exposure, and set the pictures to the desired mood.


Water drop photography is impressive, and there are no rules to abide by. Your creativity is your limit.

We have discussed the basic techniques for creating superb water droplet photos. It definitely takes you a step ahead as you undertake this unpredictable yet often fulfilling creative work. By remaining patient, consistent and persistent, you will soon be excellent at it.

Posted in: Photography for beginners