Friday, June 12, 2009

Last Night's Drops - Cream Crowns

I made these...

Alien Crown


English Crown

After seeing

I had not realised how HARD it would be to get a single crown like this..

There's a few challenges.

1). You need to drop a single drop of milk ACCURATELY into the centre of a small drop of milk/cream on the surface below.

2). You need to trigger the flash just as the crown forms.

3). If you muck it or the crown does not form.. You have to completely reset from scratch and do it all again.

This is really hard and mind numbingly repetitive.. I guess a photogate trigger would make this easier as you would be more likely to trigger on the crown forming and have to do it fewer times.. I dont have one, In the end I setup and shot around 120 times.

What's needed

4 eye-droppers, milk, cream, coloured dye, shiny reflective surface, 2 flashes

  1. Setup one dropper in a fixed position above the shiny reflective surface (I used the handle of a cheese grater that had a small hole in it (for hanging) with a weight on the other end)
  2. Mark the position that drops fall from the dropper
  3. Focus camera on the position that you marked so DOF is all around that area.
  4. Use one dropper to make a small (0.5cm) drop of milk exactly where the drops form.
  5. Use the other two droppers to dye alternate sides of the drop with different colour food dyes.
  6. REALLY quickly before the dyes mix, trigger your camera, drop a drop from the first eye-dropper and trigger your flash when you think it's hit. (Requires 3-4 hands!.. not easy if you do this on your own ;) )
  7. Check picture on your camera.. If it's no good then clean up the target area (carefully so it's still shiny) go back to 4 and start again.

If your lucky you might get something that's half decent.

Not recommended for the impatient!

Blue white crown of Perfectness


  1. Chris, This is fantastic stuff! I've been trying to do similar stuff without an off camera flash and have found it really difficult to get the sharpness that you are getting. I wasn't sure if it was because of the flash or not. The best i could get was by putting a bright light source behind the drops and then getting their silhouettes, but the results you are getting are fantastic!

  2. This becomes very, very easy with a photogate trigger.

    I have found that using toothpicks works well for placing the dyes. Note that the dyes affect the surface tension. This allows for some really cool (and repeatable) effects. For example, if you drop some milk just to the side of another milk drop with dye in its side, then the splashing milk will lift over the dye.