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How to Photograph Water Splashes

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/9/2010

Water splashes are cool. There's no denying it. But, they're not the easiest things to capture with a camera; you have to be quick. This article will provide some tips on how to photograph water splashes and get some amazing shots!

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    Learning How to Photograph a Water Splash

    Water splashes create some very cool pictures, but capturing them can be a lot harder than it looks. You have to ensure that your ISO is correct, that you’re set to the right shutter speed and that you are focused on the correct thing. And, that’s just part of the entire picture. So, to help you capture amazing water splash pictures, here are some tips on how to photograph water splash.

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    Setting up the Scene

    First of all, fill up a bowl of water until it’s about an inch from the rim. Use a clear bowl since you want to focus on the water and not the bowl itself. If you do want a background, put a colorful sheet or similar cloth object under the bowl of water. If you use a pattern, the water will create a dreamy effect with the pattern. Always use manual focus since autofocus will probably not be adequate enough to try and capture the water splashes.

    Test the waters by dropping something in to see where the water drops will most often appear. This will assist you in focusing on the correct area. You may have to play around with your focus. For example, if the camera has trouble focusing on the water, try either moving your camera in or out or try zooming in and out.

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    Avoid Getting the Camera Wet

    By Snap Whatever you do, test the area to ensure that you are far enough away so that the camera doesn’t’ get wet from any high splashes. You may try tightly pulling a piece of clear plastic across the lens of the camera. Or, use a filter that can take a little bit of wear and tear.

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    ISO and Aperture

    Next, set your camera to a pretty high ISO setting. You can’t use flash since it will just reflect either off the bowl or the water. If a high ISO still doesn’t provide enough light, try adding additional lighting. Lamps or photography lights will work. Or, invest in a strobe that will add a lot of light for a number of seconds allowing you to take a bunch of pictures before the strobe flicks off.

    You may even have to move around your lighting until it’s in the right position. And, try experimenting with your aperture. While you generally want to allow as much light in as possible in low-light situations, you may actually want to make a smaller aperture for water splashes since they will be reflecting a lot of the ambient lighting.

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    Taking the Shots

    Now, it’s time to pour the water. Use a water bottle with a small opening. You want to create a steady, but intermittent stream of water that drips into the water bowl. And, try to make them hit different places within the bowl, but still within your frame. You may want to invest in a wide angle lens for this.

    Set up your camera on a tripod. If you’re by yourself, you’ll need to pour the water yourself and try to take pictures. You’ll have a tough time doing both without someplace to rest your camera. Plus, if you don’t have any form of optical stabilization technology built-in, your pictures will by Van Der Elst be fuzzy. The best thing, however, would be to recruit an assistant to pour the water.

    Finally, you need to take a lot of shots. Set your camera to the continuous shooting mode, and be prepared for a number of bad shots. You need a lot of practice to get this right. As you learn, however, you’ll eventually land a number of wonderful water splash pictures.