Homemade frame for Water Drop Kit and how to guide

A water drop kit on its frame with lighting setup for crowns.
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General Information

Macro lens works best
I use anywhere from 2 to 4 flash units set to 1/64 power
Water drop Photography. I have been doing this for a number of years now. If anyone has any questions feel free to contact me. I may update this post as I have free time to include liquid recipe etc.


It all starts out basic....

A crown , made by putting down a droplet onto acrylic sheet and then letting a drop fall into it capturing the crown with flash

A simple collision
Liquid Art by Craig Loechel 6.jpg

A Goblet shape with fringe

And slowly as you learn gets more complex


Liquid Art By Craig Loechel 20-Edit.jpg

Liquid Art by Craig Loechel 17.jpg

Liquid Art By Craig Loechel 12.jpg

Liquid Art by Craig Loechel 37-Edit.jpg

How to do Water drops without a kit

Foil backlighting single flash used.jpg

Water Drop Photography can be a lot of fun even if you do not have a water drop kit. There is something quite special about capturing something that happens so fast we barely see it with the naked eye. Water Drop Photography falls into the category of high-speed photography. High Speed Photography is where a very fast shutter speed is used. But we do not use the shutter on our camera. We use flash set to low power. The best power setting to use for High-Speed Photography is 1/128th or 1/64th because the duration of light is extremely short (around 1/30000th) and this allows to freeze the motion of something very fast like water droplets. To capture crowns or Worthington jets (or if you get lucky collisions) Follow this tutorial below copied from my blog
To do this without a water drop kit a few things are required. You might have to get a little creative for this, but it will be worth it.

Please note camera settings will vary as we all use different equipment. So use the settings as a guide and adjust accordingly.

Safety First
For safety reasons I advise wrapping your flash units in cling wrap to protect them and you. The voltage inside a flash is enough to give you a reasonable shock. So please be safe, protect your equipment and yourself.


  • Camera
  • Off camera flash, if you have more than one use them
  • A focus aid as it is critical to get the focus correct and to achieve this, I use a socket extension bar from a tool kit. You could also hold a ballpoint pen in place and focus on that.
  • Tripod
  • A lens
  • A telephoto will work with this, even a kit lens will do. I use a macro lens.
  • A receptacle that drops water – wet face washer, IV, something with a tap, syringe hooked to a small hose, or a medicine dropper.
  • Mixing bowl or cat litter tray
  • Something to hang the dropper on My water drop kit is mounted on a very simple wooden frame I made for cheap, with wood and screws from Hardware store.
Dropping Mix
Water mixed with xanthum gum use a very small amount. Break it down first with some alcohol then add to water. You want the mix slightly slimy and like milk consistency , or you can use milk. Milk works very well for droplets as it is the perfect consistency.
If using milk as your dropping liquid, you can still fill your bowl with water. If doing crowns a 50/50 mix of cream and water works very well

  • Dishwasher rinse aid – a single drop of this goes in the bowl to break surface tension
  • Food colouring – optional
  • I like to use a bowl placed inside a larger tray to capture the overflow and fill my bowl or tray, so it is overflowing to get a seamless look (edges of bowls are not pleasing in shots.) The bowl or tray does not need to be very deep, as the drops only penetrate the surface of the water a little before the Worthington jet rises out of the water.
A single flash unit will be enough. To avoid hotspots I like to backlight my subject by shooting flash through a 3mm thick piece of white acrylic sheet from behind. You can also use a piece of paper and bounce flash off it to backlight your shot. Or you may choose to light from the front, it is entirely up to you. You can do many creative things with the lighting, like using gels to colour the light and zooming the head of the flash to shape the light.

Flash settings: 1/64 or 1/128 You could use 1/32 but your shots will not be sharp and your flash will not recycle quickly.

Camera: Shutter speed set to the sync speed of your flash. My flash sync speed is 1/160th your flash might be 1/200 a quick google search will give you answers.

Aperture: F10

ISO: Keep as low as you can start at ISO 400. Do not be afraid to increase the ISO if the shots are a little dark.

Fill your bowl or tray with desired liquid. Set up your dripper over the bowl and get it dripping. I use a wet face washer for this and top it up with a syringe as I go along. Place your focus aid so the drops are falling onto it. Place your flash unit or units aiming on the droplet or backlight the way I mentioned. If you have more than 1 flash you could have one flash on the droplet and one on a background it is up to you. Set your camera up on a tripod. Set your camera to manual mode, set your shutter speed and ISO , Set the drive mode to high speed continuous. Frame the shot. Focus on the focus aid by either using auto focus or manual focus then set the lens to manual focus so it stays set. Make a photo without the flash powered on and look at it to make sure there is no ambient light in the exposure. The image should be completely black. The histogram will tell you, a single spike on the left will be dark enough. If it is black, you are ready to power up the flash and shoot. If it is not you will need to be in darker conditions. It does not have to be that dark that you cannot see what you are doing but darker conditions are better. Now you can take away the focus aid and start shooting. If you have a remote shutter release it will come in handy for this. Watch the drops fall and hold down the shutter for a burst of images just as the drop leaves the dropper and see what you get. Experiment with the lighting. A small change to the lighting can make a big difference. A small softbox if you have one will help to soften the light if you are front lighting.

Using the above shooting method you can create crowns by placing a piece of glass or plexiglass in the drop zone instead of a bowl of water. Clean the plexi with RainX so the liquid beads up and let a single drop go so that it forms a small pool of liquid. Then let a drop go holding the shutter down to capture the crown. A 50/50 mix of cream and water works very well for this. You can inject some colour into your crowns by using a syringe and placing some coloured cream mix into the pool of liquid before dropping into it. It is better to use the same 50/50 mix with your colour or it will not work well.

If you now want a kit. Here is a video showing how droplets form so you can read the manual of your controller and be one step ahead of where I was when I started.

Water drop kits give you complete control over timings allowing you to capture amazing shots.
If you find doing this you are really loving it and would like to get a water drop kit, see below for my recommendations.
I highly recommend the MJKZZ water drop kits.
If you decide you would like to buy an mjkzz wdk you can use the code CRAIGL for free shipping.

My second recommendation is the Pluto trigger with Pluto valve.

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Definitely high skills
Love that set up, you have good skills and that studio, is impressive. Thanks for sharing Craigo79 Craigo79 . Do take in consideration please sharing this information as a guide in our Resource page.
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Had a look at what the kits cost, was surprised how expensive they are.
Yes but compared to a new lens is it that expensive? A Pluto Trigger with valve is a good starting point but that only gives you access to one valve. A dedicated wdk is for those that are very serious about it. Its like a automated macro rail they are not cheap either. :)

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