We all know them. The raindrops splashing the tarmac or tiles on the sidewalk. When it really pours, the ‘cats and dogs’ jump up high. But as the impact only lasts a split second, it is virtually impossible to see what is really going on.
Drops from the faucet into the sink, cream dripping into the coffe, milk into tea. We know that something is happening … but what is it?
The sight of the very instant a drop of water hits the surface – or two drops collide – is bound to fascinate. An American drop photographer once wrote that it is like a reunion with an old acquaintance, whom you actually never met before.
This gallery presents drop photos, taken with exposure times between 1/20.000 and 1/40.000 of a second. Even today’s most advanced digital SLR-camera is ‘only’ able to come down at 1/8.000 second. Thus you need to use other kinds of technique than the camera itself offers.
I photograph my drop photos in a dark room, leaving the camera open. The exposure time, then, is determined by the flash duration. If the burst from a speedlite is at its maximum, the duration lasts about 1/ 1.000 sec. (depending on the brand), which in this context has no interest. However, if the burst is reduced to 1/128 of the maximum, this is fired in about 1/40.000 sec., which is fast enough to catch for instance the collision of two drops.
Then it only remains to activate the flash in exactly that fraction of a second when the drops hit – in the blackouted room. But that is quite another story.