Liquid Drop Photoraphy

High Speed Liquid Drop Photography

This photo gallery has been put together to document my attempts at taking high speed photographs of water drops (although I am planning to try other liquids in order to see what effects I can produce).

The gallery begins with photographs of the rig which I built in order to carry the various components required to produce the photographs - water bottles, nozzles and the electronics needed to generate the drops at specific times controlled via software.

The rig which is built from lengths of wood and MDF panels, carries plastic parts which I designed and produced using my home made 3D printer. At the heart of the control mechanism is a Raspberry Pi computer mounted on the top of the rig connected to a home brew electronic circuit which provides the interface between the Raspberry Pi and the components used to produce the liquid drops, control the shutter of the camera and the firing of two flashguns.

Water drops are produced by connecting bottles of liquid, (maybe over the top but I have incorporated 3 of these), via 8mm plastic tubing, to a solenoid valve which is controlled electronically. The theory is that varying the 'on' time of the valve will produce varying drop sizes - how much variation has yet to be discovered but I am hoping that by also varying the size of the hose tail attached to each valve, I can get as much variation as I need. The hose tails in the photographs of the rig are 5mm diameter.

I have designed the electronics to give me two isolated and electrically separated flash output channels although in practice, these will be fired at the same time. The point of this is because the two flashguns which I have, are from different manufacturers - one Canon and the second Yongnuo - and operate at different sync output voltages. Better to be safe than sorry and not connect them in parallel I think :-)

The camera remote trigger is also isolated from my electronics and terminates in a Canon type three pin socket which is accepted by my test camera, an ancient Canon 10D and what I guess is my production camera, a Canon 1Dx. (Quite lucky that both connectors are the same - I didn't want to carry out any tests on the very expensive 1Dx but happy to experiment with the 10D just in case my designs did not operate as I expected them to.

The plastic drinks bottles used to carry the drop liquids have been modified and parts added to turn them into Marriott bottles. What? I will not go into the theory or construction of these but Marriott bottles enable liquid to emerge from them at a constant pressure as they empty. This feature should enable me to experiment and reproduce results without worrying about a reducing liquid level in the bottles producing changes in the drop sizes and times to produce them.

Thanks go to Dave Hunt in Ireland and Markus Lay in Germany whose blogs set me off on this project. I have used their ideas as my starting point.

As well as displaying them at the end of this gallery, I have also uploaded a slideshow of my first images to YouTube .