How Did I Do That? Liquid Flow photography

anotherscotsman

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Plenty of YouTube videos on this but here is a simple guide to getting started. The secret, as with many things in life, is persistence!

Very simple equipment:

RMG_8887.jpg

I've used two speed lights (flash guns) and equipped them with different coloured gels (red and green in this example). Wireless trigger (optical or radio). You can also do this with continuous lighting and with no gels depending on what you want to achieve but easier with flash.

A decent-sized (but not too big) transparent water container. I've used a Kilner jar here but an aquarium or even a glass flower vase would do the job. Big is better for the container (flat sides as well) but the larger the container, the more water you have to change after a couple of shots.

Black card or something like that behind the container.

Medicine dropper or syringe (here is one from an ink-jet refill kit).

Camera with a macro lens or a long focal length lens at its closest focussing distance.

Dropping liquid. You can use ink in water, water-based (vinyl) paint, milk, cream or any number of coloured or colourless liquids. Best effect is with opaque liquids (milk, cream, paint etc) to give the flash something to reflect from. Playing with the dropping liquid properties (viscosity, oiliness) has a big impact on the nature of the flow observed.

Put the camera on a tripod or solid surface and set to manual focus and use a spoon or your finger to set the camera focus point to where you want the drop to enter the liquid container. Set your camera to manual and set aperture to a reasonably high number for decent depth of field (use at least f8). Set shutter speed to around 1/150s and take a shot with no flash. Frame should be black.

Turn on flash and fill dropper/syringe with the dropping liquid.

Let one or more drops fall onto the water in the tank at the focus point you set earlier and take the photo simultaneously. By changing the time between drop impact and shutter activation, you can vary the effect you see.

Repeat until the water gets too murky then clean and refill the tank and start again.


Post processing. If you get the exposure right in camera then not much to do. Crop to suit, darken the blacks a bit and boost the highlights to your taste. Sometimes works well to rotate the image to make it look like the flow is coming from the side or the bottom of the screen.

Straight from the camera:

RMG_8801 1.jpg

Crop, rotate and darken blacks:


RMG_8801.jpg


here, you can see the effect of using two coloured flashes (red & green) on a cream-based fluid with very short delay between drop and photo.


Different drop liquids give different dispersion properties. Here is an example of diluted vinyl paint (green) again with red and green flash gels:

RMG_8456.jpg

You can also be more imaginative in post eg mirror image technique:

RMG_8762 1.jpg

This one also had glittery-bits mixed into the dropping fluid.



Go forth and play!
 

Clix Pix

macrumors demi-goddess
Cool! I've seen that there are special water-drop devices that one can buy which are then synced with the camera and the gelled flashes in order to capture the moment of the drops hitting the water (collision) which can be very effective. Since I don't have any flash units at the moment, I would have to try and coordinate the dropping of the liquid and the release of the shutter button (remote commander cable shutter release would be necessary for this, with one hand pressing the cable release and the other hand holding the dropper and dropping the liquid into the water) and hope for the best.....! I do have gels, though, from the past, and of course continuous lights. That might work......

The stringy bits is what threw me off when looking at the other images, as they suggested something viscous -- I would guess that the paint and/or the milk (cream) create that effect. This could be a fun rainy-day project! In the meantime I am going to experiment with the glow-in-the-dark idea with a UV light source, as that offers possibilities, too.....
 

someoldguy

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Thanks for posting this , although you faked me out ! I'd hoped the process would let me find a use for some UV transmittance filters that I've had laying around for a few years . Colored gels , milk , paint , and glitter ..... nothing remotely radioactive ,explosive ,or teratogenic ...so sad...?
 
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anotherscotsman

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Thanks for posting this , although you faked me out ! I'd hoped the process would let me find a use for some UV transmittance filters that I've had laying around for a few years . Colored gels , milk , paint , and glitter ..... nothing remotely radioactive ,explosive ,or teratogenic ...so sad...?
If I’d had the UV kit then it certainly opens a lot of opportunities as @Clix Pix pointed out but I’m cheap! ?
 
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Clix Pix

macrumors demi-goddess
Hey, for about $12.00 USD you can get a UV/Black light "flashlight." That's what I did, got one from Amazon, which arrived yesterday afternoon, and last night when it got dark I put together a very simple set up and was amazed at the results. I posted one last night and have just now posted a second, very different image, today.

Setup was a black foam core board on the table, with a second black foam core board as backdrop and to ensure no ambient light from across the room could affect the subjects. I collected various items to see what they'd do, turned out the lights in the immediate vicinity and turned on the UV flashlight, which was the sole source of light...... WOW!!!! Magic! It was really fun playing with this.
 

someoldguy

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If I can ever find the UV light I had gotten a while back to cure resin , and it still works , I've got some ideas that could be interesting .
 
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kenoh

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Game on! I like fountain pens so I have a few hues of ink lying around and young-ish kids means I have the droppers handy from medicines.

I thought this would be way more complicated. Need to have a bash at this one!
 
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anotherscotsman

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Game on! I like fountain pens so I have a few hues of ink lying around and young-ish kids means I have the droppers handy from medicines.

I thought this would be way more complicated. Need to have a bash at this one!
Bring it on Ken! You can always add a bit of syrup to the ink to increase viscosity and density if you want to get more of a stream effect than a cloud of colour. Lots of hours of experimentation ?
 
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someoldguy

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So ... trying this out using a UV flashlight and some thinned fluorescent paint .
_MG_8920crop.jpg

Not wholly successful , had to use a far higher ISO than I'd like (6400) and a wider aperture than I'd care to use ; just to get a somewhat fast (.3 sec. ) shutter speed.
Using a 6D2 and 100 Macro on a tripod with a remote release . Time to play around some more in a few days .
 

Clix Pix

macrumors demi-goddess
That's pretty darned cool!

I've gotten as far as buying some acrylic paint, which I assume and hope is going to be easily washed out with water afterwards, but haven't really gone beyond that yet in exploring this technique. I have the droppers and I have the gels but am not so sure I have the required on-the-mark hand-and-eye coordination to be using a dropper with one hand and simultaneously clicking the remote to control the camera's shutter with the other!
 

anotherscotsman

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So ... trying this out using a UV flashlight and some thinned fluorescent paint . View attachment 896793
Not wholly successful , had to use a far higher ISO than I'd like (6400) and a wider aperture than I'd care to use ; just to get a somewhat fast (.3 sec. ) shutter speed.
Using a 6D2 and 100 Macro on a tripod with a remote release . Time to play around some more in a few days .
Like the uv effect you got here. Getting motion freeze is obviously where flash comes into its own. I wonder what a combination of the two would look like - a bit of glowing motion with a frozen flash snapshot?
- - Post merged: - -

That's pretty darned cool!

I've gotten as far as buying some acrylic paint, which I assume and hope is going to be easily washed out with water afterwards, but haven't really gone beyond that yet in exploring this technique. I have the droppers and I have the gels but am not so sure I have the required on-the-mark hand-and-eye coordination to be using a dropper with one hand and simultaneously clicking the remote to control the camera's shutter with the other!
It’s not that hard given that you want to allow a bit of time for the liquid to flow after the drop. Not like trying to capture the drop itself (see other How-To in sticky thread for that).
 

someoldguy

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Like the uv effect you got here. Getting motion freeze is obviously where flash comes into its own. I wonder what a combination of the two would look like - a bit of glowing motion with a frozen flash snapshot?
Thanks . Yeah the UV glow worked out pretty well . Motion freeze not so much. Your idea of using flash to stop motion along with the UV sounds good . Maybe positioning the flash to fire downward onto the surface of the water to avoid bouncing flash off the front of the plastic box containing the water might work . Something to play with over the next few days . Ultimately , I'll probably end up hacking a cheap manual flash to produce UV . Think I've got a filter that'll do the job of restricting flash output to UV , just need an eBay flash . Was going to use an old Vivitar 2000 I have around from way back , but, according to a number of internet sites, the trigger voltage seems to be too high . Don't want to toast my camera .
 

anotherscotsman

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Thanks . Yeah the UV glow worked out pretty well . Motion freeze not so much. Your idea of using flash to stop motion along with the UV sounds good . Maybe positioning the flash to fire downward onto the surface of the water to avoid bouncing flash off the front of the plastic box containing the water might work . Something to play with over the next few days . Ultimately , I'll probably end up hacking a cheap manual flash to produce UV . Think I've got a filter that'll do the job of restricting flash output to UV , just need an eBay flash . Was going to use an old Vivitar 2000 I have around from way back , but, according to a number of internet sites, the trigger voltage seems to be too high . Don't want to toast my camera .
Yes, a lot of horror stories of old flashes burning-out camera electronics with high voltage/power. Putting flash onto the side of the tank helps minimise front reflection. Good luck.
 

someoldguy

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First try with my new (to me ) hacked UV flash ...

uvpaint1crop2K.jpg

The paint is unthinned flourescent paint as used in my water drop attempts . Paint was dripped on some black construction paper that was taped to a cardboard box . The paint's pretty thick so it takes a while to run down.
Shot in daylit room , f11 , 1/200 , ISO 1600
 

kenoh

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First try with my new (to me ) hacked UV flash ...

View attachment 898530
The paint is unthinned flourescent paint as used in my water drop attempts . Paint was dripped on some black construction paper that was taped to a cardboard box . The paint's pretty thick so it takes a while to run down.
Shot in daylit room , f11 , 1/200 , ISO 1600
Different lengths too. Interesting whether that was influenced by time between drops, or amount in drops or an affect of the ingredients to get the colours .
 

someoldguy

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Different lengths too. Interesting whether that was influenced by time between drops, or amount in drops or an affect of the ingredients to get the colours .
I think the flow was just a result of the size of the initial blobs of paint . 2 things I found kinda interesting :
1: The green on the left is actually yellow under regular light
2: The fluorescence of the paint seems to decline when the paint's dry . My entry in this week's contest is the above image , with the addition of new paint blobs a few hours after the first blobs dried .
Anyway , probably this weekend I'll try actual drops of the dilute paint into water to see if my newly hacked flash will stop motion .
 
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