Junior reporters learn how to capture the world in a drop of water at a droplet photography workshop

Junior reporters learn how to capture the world in a drop of water at a droplet photography workshop

Droplet photography sounds tricky but professional-looking results can be achieved with smartphone cameras


Each tiny water droplet contains a slightly different reflection of your surroundings. The effect is artistic and extremely stylish, but you don’t need an expensive camera to achieve it – your phone will do the job quite nicely.
Photo: Veronica Lin

As the name suggests, droplet photography involves capturing images of tiny drops of water. Amateur photographers, especially those without professional cameras, often struggle to do that. But Carrie Chan has found a way to capture tiny droplets with smartphone lenses. This Christmas, New Town Plaza is holding a droplet photography workshop and our junior reporters went to Sha Tin to join in.

Speed and aperture

“This year’s decorations are very similar to last year’s. Think of it as an upgrade from the previous exhibit,” said Carrie Chan, a freelance photographer who was our instructor for the day.

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Chan started us off by explaining the three key elements of photography: shutter speed, aperture and ISO.

Shutter speed controls the length of time the sensor in a camera is exposed to light; aperture controls the opening of the lens which light passes through; and ISO is used to adjust the brightness of a photo.

Hilary Lo and Veronica Lin

A screen is a big part of droplet photography.
Photo; Sanya Sethi

No blur

To take droplet photos, you need a transparent plastic screen to spray water onto. If you don’t have a spray, you can use a cotton bud to add drops of water onto the plastic. You have to make sure that your water droplets aren’t too large, otherwise when you hold the screen up to take a photo, the water will just run down it!

Next, you need to set your camera or phone on a steady surface such as a tripod or table to minimise any blur. This is crucial because a slow shutter speed is used for droplet photography. The slightest shake can result in a very blurry final photo.

Sanya Sethi

The right surroundings will make all the difference in your photograph. Try to choose a place with bright, colourful lighting for the best effect.
Photo: Veronica Lin

Remember to focus

The shutter speed on your digital camera decides the brightness of the photo, so if the shutter speed is shorter, less light reaches the image sensor, and the photo will be dimmer. Carrie suggested that if the shutter speed is 8 to 10 seconds, the brightness of the photo would be just right.

Also, do remember to focus on one droplet first. If you’re using an iPhone, zoom in to 10x and press on a droplet until you see a yellow box with the words “AE/AF Lock”. Then you’ll know you’re in focus.

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If you want your droplets to look further away from each other, you can use a cotton bud to drip droplets on the plastic, so you can get an effect of scattered drops; but if you want them to be more closely packed, use a spray.

The distance between the spray and the plastic also affects the size of the droplets – if you spray from further away, you’ll get large droplets, but if you spray from a shorter distance, smaller droplets will be made.

Eunice Yip

Place the plastic panel at the right angle and the drops will reflect all the colours.
Photo: Sanya Sethi

Take your time, do it right

One of the most testing things about droplet photography was how to get the right amount of water droplets onto the glass panel. You needed to spray a decent amount of water onto the glass, neither too much or too little. You must also take care that you don’t accidentally wipe off any water droplets because this would ruin the whole glass panel; then, you would have to wipe it down and start all over again.

It took quite a long time to take a good photo, you will need to make sure that those lights are in the colour that you want and make sure you have focused on the droplets already.

Secondly, you should hold your phone against the glass panel then magnify it to the certain part of the glass panel droplets you want to focus on. One thing to be caution about is that not to touch the glass panel when you have put water droplets on it. It was a great experience the photo looks really good

Secondly you had to hold your phone and magnify at it while also holding the glass panel. It was hard if you were using the glass lamps for your photo and you had to be careful not to shatter your glass panel or even your phone itself.

Natasha Lau and Timothy Pang

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
A drop of colour


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Kerry Hoo