Tutorial Dropping water photography journey

  1. cuonghut
    Froyo Aug 7, 2019

    cuonghut , Aug 7, 2019 :
    Capturing moments for a valuable photo would be struggling sometimes, especially when you don’t travel too much or even lazily wander outside, searching for inspiration like me . So, I normally think if I want to be outstanding, I will be able to do extraordinary things that less people could. That’s why I chose "Dropping water photography" as my destination. After a tough period of time to try and fail, I’ve experienced so many things to share with you rather than just submitting couple photos within several captions. Therefore today, I share my shooting journey for #ShotOnOneplus contest in August to all the OP’s members who love photography like me. This is my very first time writing an article in our forum, any comment is appreciated. Hope you guys will find interesting tips and tricks then. It’s quite long so please be patient and enjoy it. Thanks.
    My inspiration is a tutorial that I've read for a long time ago. It said the alternative method for snapping a dropping water is setting long exposure (2-4s) in the totally dark environment then flashing on the moment a drop landing on the water surface. But, I didn’t have external flash (Flash is not allowed in Pro Mode, though), how come? OK, I manually used my table lamp as a replacement, it was hard to create the very short amount of flash just by clicking on the button. The myth is simply placing the phone in a stable position, setting exposure from 2-4s, pressing the capture button, flashing on when drop touching on surface (the amount of flash should be be real quick if you don’t want your photos overexposed or the drop blurred). It was really tricky to do it all by myself. Explanation: the sensor absorbs light through lens but it’s totally dark so there’s no light goes through it, your photo is all black; flash on, the objects reflecting the light and coming to the sensor; flash off, light has gone, sensor has nothing to do with; eventually, you got a photo of that moment flash on. And here is the result:

    Exposure time: 4s

    After more than an hour unarchiving the satisfied photos, I intensively searched on Google but nothing relatable: all about some experts using DSLR within macro lens and a professional lighting system guide how to setup like those. I was mad and swore unstoppable without any reasonable results. And yes, I did, I got some stunning photos after exhausting process of try and fail, and here’s how i did it:
    1. Setup
    • a smartphone, ofc. Mine is OP5.
    • 1 cup filled full of water as a landing place for drops.
    • A water bottle that punched a hole by a pin for frequent drops. I used my leaking shower for a water source .
    • A lamp or whatever light sources you can have.
    • A piece of color paper for a background.
    • Patience, as much as possible
    It depends on what you got around your house so you should be adaptive. My setup is below

    Big plastic bowl for storing water, placed on a can of washing liquid, light source is my table lamp raised on a basket, toothpaste as a focused object when shooting.

    One lightning tip is putting your light back on the water cup, opposite to your camera for the best result. I will illustrate the different results under various lighting conditions in the next part below to make it explainable.

    2. Performing
    Ok, here we go. Open your camera app. Here is the Stock Camera app on OP5 running OOS 9.0.7. I have examined both modes but I recommend Auto mode for flash control and continuous shooting feature.


    Manual focusing on smartphones is really easy to use compared to DSLR, just touch on the expected focus point, but the drips are inconsistent, so you need an object placed on the drop landing a focus model. I used toothpaste as you can see )


    You should place your phone close to the drip as much as you can, reaching the focus limitation of your phone for better depth in result photos. And the continuous shooting feature actually saved my life because who knows when the drip landed to the base. So, use it if you don’t want to lose your time for irritation. All you need to do is touch and hold on the shooting button for 20 consecutive shots. One timing tip is when the drip nearly leaves the hole, hold your capture button because it’s going to drop really fast, you probably miss it if snapping later.
    Let’s do the first try. It can not be denied that your initial shots would not be expectable. But observing, calibrating light position, camera position, camera setting… would make it gradually better. Here are some of my initial best shots. As you can see, I changed a lot of things.


    In the first half, my method could be called Russian roulette style. It means that I just shot one by one, not continuously, flash on as the instruction for DSLR. And yes, the results were terrible as you thought, the proportion of appearing drip photos is 1/10, the others were just a flat water surface as in the images below. After that, I turned off the flash for the faster shutter speed.


    Basically, the drip’s procedure could be separated to 5 phases as in my illustration below. Catching phase 2 or 4 is my purpose for the best visual effects.

    And eventually, after the significant effort I spent, I earned some satisfaction. Everytime I got qualifying pic, my heart pound so hard that I instantly checked it whether it was OK or not. You can look closely to those photos which are out of focus a bit.

    Matched to the phase illustrated above

    Lack of lock AF on OP phones caused the out of focus on results. After I got rid of the focus model, the OP camera instantly changed the focus point which was inconvenient and hard to control. Then, I install a free reputed Camera FV5 application on Play store which allows the user to manually change a bunch of parameters but I just need locking AF feature.


    Professional UI but I just used the lock AF feature by pressing the button circled red and baaaammmm, totally different results, sharp as hell.

    Like a crown





    Come back here - the giant said


    Worm hole on spatio-temporal surface

    Freezing time

    Woah, Elsa’s crown

    (To be continued in #2 b'cuz 20 pictures limitation)

    Last edited: Apr 14, 2020

  2. cuonghut
    Froyo Aug 7, 2019

    cuonghut , Aug 7, 2019 :
    But there is no perfect app qualified for your requirement, Camera FV5 is not an exception. While the stock camera app is able to shoot 6-7 photos for a complete phase, Camera FV just makes it 2-3 photos. That is to say you will miss a lot, decreasing your result close to the Russian roulette method at the first half. I hope Oneplus will include a lock AF function in the future. (Update: actually, the lock AF feature is already existed by hold on the focus point about a sec until the text "AE/AF locked" appears. Sorry about that and sorry Oneplus too :()
    When you get familiar with the operation, you can raise the tough level by adding drip, food coloring, switching the liquid to oil, acrylic painting or dropping the fruits instead… I was too tired after doing this so I just changed the camera’s angle like these:

    Really love this, absolutely sharp and crown shaped.

    I use this for my lock screen wallpaper


    In terms of 2 drips, i hardly got this one among hundreds of failures.

    3. Conclusion
    This experiment consumed 2 days within 5 intensively working hours, 922 photos were created, about 10 or so satisfied photos but it’s worthy for all the experiences I got. There are actual limitations of the camera but it doesn’t matter. It depends on what you can do or how you can push out beyond the limit. This reality emphasizes my thoughts again.
    If you have any comments, questions...Please feel free to ask me in this thread. Thank you for reading so far, wishing you have excellent photos not only for the contest but for yourself.
    I also put the link of my Google photos album for this experiment to demonstrate the intensity of my journey was. Be careful to click, it’s a mess . Link: https://photos.app.goo.gl/FoVXvJiHizLyeH3X7.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2020

  3. panthimanshu
    Honeycomb Aug 7, 2019

  4. otto2
    Photography Expert Aug 7, 2019

    otto2 , Aug 7, 2019 :

    @script . Great postings, should be moved to Photography / tutorials section ?

  5. panthimanshu
    Honeycomb Aug 7, 2019

    panthimanshu , Aug 7, 2019 :
    I agree... its great post and should be moved to Photography or tutorial section. :):)

  6. Bouncer71
    OnePlus 7 Pro Sample Shot Photographer Community Expert Aug 7, 2019

    Bouncer71 , Aug 7, 2019 :
    Holy Moly...:eek:
    What a comprehensive, cool and inspiring Tutorial...!
    Proves once again that there's no need for Studio Equipment, just knowledge, creativity and endurance..;)
    Congratulations and very well done @cuonghut...!!!
    Thank you for the time and work you put into this...!

    I will definitely try this...!o_O

  7. cuonghut
    Froyo Aug 7, 2019

    cuonghut , Aug 7, 2019 :
    @panthimanshu @otto2 : thank you guys so much.

    @Bouncer71: thank you too and please tag me in your result whenever you upload it to Community

    P/S: OMG , my thread was moved to the Photography section!!!!! Can't believe it eventhough I've tried to post in this section before figuring out I don't have the permission

  8. Bouncer71
    OnePlus 7 Pro Sample Shot Photographer Community Expert Aug 7, 2019

    Bouncer71 , Aug 7, 2019 :
    Will do... ! ;)

    Well deserved...!
    Welcome to the Club... :D

    superplus, buntycubal, otto2 and 2 others like this.
  9. O1565401462848
    Cupcake Aug 10, 2019

    O1565401462848 , Aug 10, 2019 :
    Wow that's crazy. You always see the final product but barely ever the work that goes into it. Thanks for displaying everything to see the production.

    superplus and cuonghut like this.
  10. sergiofcpaulino
    Cupcake Aug 10, 2019

    cuonghut likes this.
  11. cuonghut
    Froyo Aug 27, 2019

  12. Starcommander
    Lollipop Aug 27, 2019

  13. superplus
    Lollipop Head Moderator Aug 27, 2019

    superplus , Aug 27, 2019 :
    Wow, this is amazing! Love it all, the full description, the set-up, the witty captions to the images, the colour of the lighting and the background, thanks so much for sharing!

  14. A1541188423661
    Froyo Aug 27, 2019

  15. eye842
    Lollipop Aug 27, 2019

    eye842 , Aug 27, 2019 :
    Wow! impressive and comprehensive tutorial. The outcome is some fantastic pictures, they look so professional that it is so unreal that you shot them in a bucket at home.

  16. Sidharth Singh Bhati
    Honeycomb Aug 27, 2019

    cuonghut likes this.
  17. Jay_jude
    Cupcake Aug 27, 2019

    Jay_jude , Aug 27, 2019 :
    [e]1f3a9[/e] off bro new trick must learn for all the members in the community.

    cuonghut likes this.
  18. R_Vetrivel
    Donut Aug 27, 2019

    Starcommander and cuonghut like this.
  19. B.I.T.S.
    User of the Year 2019 Aug 28, 2019

    B.I.T.S. , Aug 28, 2019 :
    This kind of photography has always intrigued me, always wanted to try but never found the moment without interruptions for grab enough patience.

    I never thought about doing this with a smartphone tho... But after this I'm definitely trying. Such an amazing tutorial!! Thank you very much.

    swiftestcat, cuonghut and superplus like this.
  20. Punk_69
    Lollipop Aug 28, 2019

    Punk_69 , Aug 28, 2019 :
    An awesome post after a long time !!
    Loved it !!
    Here's some shots I did a few years ago...
    Shot on a dslr though...

    IMG_2912.jpg IMG_2874.jpg IMG_2970.jpg

    waliuxd, B.I.T.S., superplus and 2 others like this.