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How to Shoot Artful Droplets on Flower Petals

Droplet, drop, petal, flower, red, black, macro, Sony, Sigma, water
90mm, f/2.8, 1/400 sec, 100 ISO

Petals and droplets… classic combo but it always works well! It can be graphical, poetic or simply gorgeous.

It’s not always easy to do but here I give you my tips to get your own droplet on a petal shot.

Droplet, drop, petal, flower, pink, purple, macro, Sony, Sigma, water
90mm, f/8, 1/8sec, 100 ISO

The setup

First, do this at home, get some of your favorite flowers from your garden/park or at your local florist. It’s impossible to do it outdoors, the wind and the global setup can be difficult to get in place.

Water, drop, droplet, petal, flower, macro, sony, sigma, landscape, waterscape, see through, bokhe, blur, pink, purple, rose
90mm, f/4.5, 1/2 sec, 100 ISO. I used one of my sunset shots in Key West, FL on my tablet to take this photo. Put it upside down (locked the auto-rotating feature) and behind the droplet, quite close actually.

Use a tripod, it’s basic and essential if you want the best possible quality of your image. If you have a remote controle, use it, or just use the timer of your camera. Some recent cameras like mine feature NFC and WiFi capabilities allowing you to use your smartphone as a remote screen and remote control. That can be a very good solution if it works well with your devices.

Droplet, drop, petal, flower, pink, purple, black, macro, Sony, Sigma, water
Here, I locked the exposure before I added the black background. The light source comes from the window. (90mm, f/3.5, 1/6 sec, 100 ISO)

If you don’t have a macro lens, get a reverse ring, extension tubes or macro Raynox lenses. Also, see my previous article about How to Take Great Macro Photos for Only $40!

Don’t forget to use a syringe to put your drop with delicacy on the petal. I would even recomend to add some glycerin to your liquid in order to have a drop with a better firmness, otherwise it can be quite difficult to have a beautifully round drop. However, it is not impossible without glycerin, the droplets shown here do not include it.

Droplet, drop, petal, flower, red, blue, rose, macro, Sony, Sigma, water
90mm, f/6.3, 1/5 sec, 100 ISO

Focus and Depth of Field

Focusing is not easy in this situation. I would advise you to use manual focusing with the liveview of your camera and if your camera has it, use the magnification to be sure to focus where you have decided to. You can either focus on the edges of the droplet itself or choose to focus in what you see through the droplet! It’s the funniest part as you will see later in this article.

Droplet, drop, petal, flower, pink, blue, macro, Sony, Sigma, water, dark, silhouette
In this image, I locked the exposure on a bright source of light in order to have a sort of silhouette. (90mm, f/4, 1/13 sec, 100 ISO)

The Depth of Field is also very important. It will determine the atmosphere you give to your image. If you want to add mystery, open the diaphragm! The DoF will be rather shallow at f/2.8 or f/3.2 for instance. If you want to see most of the petals, stop it down between f/6 to f/9, that is usually enough.

In order to have different aspects, I like to change the color of the background. You can also have black or white background. I usually try to have  a color gradient with the available light from a window for instance.

Using a small flashlight, like LED lights, can also give a very fancy look to the picture. Leaning the camera is also something you can try to add the impression the droplet is going to actually drop!

Droplet, drop, petal, flower, pink, blue, macro, Sony, Sigma, water, dark, silhouette
Here I tilted my camera to give the impression that the droplet will fall. I also changed the color of the background to have complementary colors between the petals and the background (90mm, f/4.5, 1/2 sec, 100 ISO)

With all those tips you should be able to catch a lot of different configurations for your photographs.

Add Creativity

It’s endless! So unleash it!

Chicago through a droplet:

Droplet, drop, petal, flower, pink, blue, macro, Sony, Sigma, water, landscape, cityscape, chicago
Click on it to enlarge it (90mm, f/8, 1/6 sec, 100 ISO)

Here’s an example of what you can do to vary your pictures:

I wanted to have a landscape through the droplet I was shooting, so I thought about one of my Chicago skyline pictures I had printed before and set it right behind the flowers. I have also tried that with my iPad earlier in this article and with one of my sunset shots, in this case don’t forget to switch off the rotating feature because you’ll have to get your picture upside down so that you see it normally through the droplet.

Do this with sunsets, other flowers behind, your favorite team flag or whatever comes to mind.

Set up, Sony, NEX, 5T, sigma, flowers, chicago, cityscape, perspective

You can even try selfies!

Drop, droplet, macro, sony, sigma, extension tubes, selfie, flower, water, self portrait

How to Add Nice and Gorgeous Bokeh

To make this effect you will have to use another accessory. A sprayer will allow you to do that. To accomplish such a photograph, you will need a lot of light as you will need to shoot at least at 1/1000 sec. You can also step up the ISO to make sure the speed is enough but not too much as you will add noise to your image. Use a window if the sun is shining, or just a powerful source of light. Don’t forget your back ground. It’s always better to have it harmonious. Spray  more or less closely from the camera (be careful not to get your camera too wet if it’s not weather sealed) and put a lens hood on your lens to protect the front element from getting drops on it.

Droplet, drop, petal, flower, red, macro, Sony, Sigma, water, rain, effect, bokeh, refraction
Depending on the distance you spray the drops and the quantity, you will obtain different results.
Droplet, drop, petal, flower, red, macro, Sony, Sigma, water, rain, effect, bokeh, refraction
90mm, f/2.8, 1/3200 sec, 1600 ISO

I always like to try new things and play with the settings to “fine-tune” the effects. In this case, I wanted to try with a slower shutter speed to try to obtain a rain-like effect. It also has its charms… 😉

Droplet, drop, petal, flower, red, macro, Sony, Sigma, water, rain, effect, bokeh, refraction
90mm, f/2.8, 1/400 sec, 100 ISO. The difference of shutter speed makes all the difference here!

Hope you enjoyed these tips about droplets which is always a great subject to fine macro photography.

If you have comments, thoughts or ideas to share, feel free to leave a comment below or to contact us, we would love to hear from you!

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See you at the next photography adventure!

Chris