Green and Blue Flower Water Drop Reflection

How to Take Water Drop Refraction Photos with your iPad as a Light Source

For water drop refraction photos, you want to have the background illuminated that you want to show in the water drop.  Your iPad is perfect for this.  It has a built-in light source and can store a large amount of background images to display in your water drops. 

Advantages of Using the iPad as a Light Source for Water Drop Refraction Photos

  • Quickly change backgrounds during your photo session – just swipe left or right.
  • Easily control the brightness of the background
  • Zoom in and change the placement of the image
Yellow Flower Water Drop Refraction
Yellow Flower Water Drop Refraction

What You Need for a Water Drop Refraction Set Up

It is easy to set up your water drop refraction photo shoot.  Here’s what you need:

  • Camera and lens.  A macro lens is not necessary.
  • Remote shutter release or shutter timer delay in your camera
  • Tripod
  • iPad with several backgrounds loaded in the Photos app.  Put all your backgrounds in an album so you can quickly swipe through them during your photography session.
Photos Background Album
Photos Background Album
  • A stand for your iPad or some way to prop it up.
  • Extra pair of hands.  These are extremely helpful in holding your subject, lights, diffusers, etc., and they are not very expensive. 
  • Syringe.  You can buy syringes with blunt tip needles for arts and crafts online.
Water Drop Refraction Set Up
Water Drop Refraction Set Up

Water Drop Refraction Set Up Steps

  • Set up your camera, tripod and remote shutter release.  Use a wider aperture f/5.0 – f/6.3 to blur your background.  I also typically use manual focus, focus peaking helps a lot if you have that feature on your camera.
  • Go to the Display & Brightness settings on your iPad.  Set the Auto-Lock setting to Never.  This setting will prevent the iPad from turning off the display.
  • Go to your backgrounds album in the photos app and bring up the photo you would like to start with. Tap on the image to show it full screen. 
  • Place the iPad at the back of your workspace
  • Place your subject between the iPad and camera mounted tripod. Use the extra pair of hands to hold your subject at the correct level.

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  • Take a test shot to confirm your set up, aperture, and shutter speed.
  • If your subject that will be holding the water drop is too dark, you may want to add secondary lighting.  A small LED lamp for even flashlight would work.  Careful this may also add spectral highlights that you’ll need to remove in photoshop.
  • Use the syringe to add the water drop to your subject.  This will take some patience.  If the drop won’t stay on your subject, try another side, top, bottom, etc.  You may need to change the arrangement of the subject.  You can also carefully try to add water to enlarge the drop.
  • Once you have your Water Drop set, take a practice shot.  Check your focus (you’ll want the water drop to be sharp) and the placement of the subject in the water drop.  You may need to move your iPad or zoom in to the image to change the placement.
  • Once you have the water drop, lighting and everything set up, take a lot of photos with different backgrounds on your iPad.
  • Check your photos carefully for spectral highlights, you may need to change the lighting set up, turn off other lights, etc., or you can just remove them in Photoshop with the Clone Stamp or Healing Brush tool.
Pink and Blue Swirl Water Drop Refraction
Pink and Blue Swirl Water Drop Refraction

With using your iPad for your illuminated backgrounds, the possibilities are endless.

Written by Martin Belan

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