Rick McKenzie’s Art of the Splash Workshop

Rick McKenzie’s Art of the Splash Workshop

Submitted by:
Chris Temple
Hamilton Camera Club

Rick and Dee’s workshop was well attended (full capacity) and concentrated on two types of water drop photography, “Water Drop Flash photography” and “Refractive Drop”.

Rick made it clear that the most essential requirements for this type of photography was PATIENCE, followed by equipment and technique. We had two water drop flash set ups and one refractive drop set up so all could try out the setups for themselves.

Water Drop Flash

The idea behind this technique is to capture the shapes that a liquid gives on a high speed collision.
We can’t give you patience but here is a list of equipment needed and some tips on Technique.

Water SculptureFor Water Drop Flash photography the following photographic equipment is required.

  • DSLR
  • off camera flash (speedlite with variable power settings)
  • macro lens or medium telephoto
  • tripod

Suggested camera settings are F16, Camera Raw (for easier editing) Shutter 2 seconds and to do this camera set to manual.

Equipment can be as simple as an eyedropper and a pan to a solid state triggering device for water, camera and flash such as the Camera Axe (used in the clinic) or Time Machine, Stop Shot, Trigger Trap and the HiViz multi trigger. Rick suggested that the water tray (drop receiver) be 14 by 11 by 3 inches** and preferably painted black. A focusing aid to help focus where the drop hits the water is also very useful. Upscale water dropper could be replaced by a reservoir with a Mariotte siphon to ensure constant pressure and a electrical drop trigger.

For liquids, one can use any thing such as water, milk or oil, all will give different results.

Water can be thickened with a mixture of Guar or Xanthan gum (1/8 tsp/cup of water**) rubbing alcohol to help dissolve the gum and a dishwasher rinse aid in the tub you’re dropping into makes the water column taller and skinnier.

Water Drop refraction

This is where you place a subject behind a water drop and through the magic of macro capture an image inside the drop.
Water Drop Refraction requires less equipment but every bit as much patience as the freeze drop technique.

The Black Eyes of SusanEquipment needed can be as simple as:

  •  DLSR with a macro lens
  • extension tubes or just a close up filter
  • If you are not shooting the water drop straight on, then focus stacking either with Photoshop or a dedicated focusing stack app comes into play.


Place a suitable subject 3-4 inches ** behind the water drop. Use your sharpest aperture (usually around F8) You need a very steady hand and great patience.



*** yup for all you younger members these are old fashioned imperial measurements. Sorry.