Hi everyone, been experimenting with water drops today. I'll get back here soon and let you all know the scoop. Anyways, I am trying like heck to get these things in focus. I started out with some very light colored water and no matter how many times I used my pencil to set my focus, the drops are coming out soft. I am using my macro lens, I preset my focus using a pencil at the exact location the drop hits, set my settings at 16 and up and my flash to manual 1/64 using my remote off camera. I am also using a tripod so I don't know what I'm doing that is frustrating me so...Here is an example and I think this looks a little more sharp although not so sure it is as sharp as I could get it..Can you all take a look at it for me and let me know what you think? And also, could it be that the light colors are what is giving me the problems in my earlier attempts? I don't want to drive myself crazy if this is all the sharp I can actually get.
I too had some trouble obtaining decent focus on the drops...I used a ballpoint pen at the drop site and it was a bit soft... Then I noticed the printing on the pen was not quite "sharp" so I re-focused on the printing and that nailed the focus pretty well.
The back of the "crater" seems in focus, the front/camera-side is not. You also have a bit of focus-diffusion caused by the transparency of the front of the "crater" that I'm sure can't be helped - but it does detract from the feeling of a focused image. That might not be all bad if you could also catch the front focus.
You might try moving the pencil a bit toward the camera to obtain your focus. The DOF is not symmetric, it's shallower on the camera side and deeper behind the actual focus point.
Roger It's still, ISO, aperture and shutter-speed, right?
Okay, I am going to try all your suggestions. I never thought about using the actual words on the pencil to focus on, that sure would be probably easier to see if it is in focus. That has been my major issue, getting the focus. But I will "GET ER DONE". Thanks my pals...
#7. "RE: Is this sharp?" In response to Reply # 0 Thu 10-May-12 12:39 PM by elec164
Darlene, without question it looks like a DOF issue; although if this is a full uncropped capture I don’t know if I would agree with Roger’s statement. DOF varies in percentage front to back depending on the focus distance. At macro ranges the distribution will be for all intended purposes 50-50.
I tried to estimate the diameter of the crater from a water drop, and it appears to be around a quarter of an inch which puts your reproduction ratio at about 1:1 making the focus distance about one foot. If this is the case, then your DOF at f/22 would be about the diameter of the crater. So I would stop down as much as possible to get an available margin of error for the focus distance.
Also it appears you shot this at an angle, so I would ask where on the pencil did you focus. To get the most accurate distance for the center of the drop, you should be focusing upon the water line on the pencil. If you are focusing above the water line, then your focus point will be further from the center of the crater than you would want causing the DOF shift seen in your image.
But all in all great work and I will be interested in seeing the results of your further attempts.
Just a few extra thoughts on the issue, hope it helps. Having never done this myself, I’d be interested in knowing a bit more about your setup (how you are triggering shutter for example). Also the more experienced people in the macro forum might be able to give additional advice.
Edited to add:
I should refrain from posting before the morning caffeine kicks in!!
I realized my earlier explanation about the angled DOF didn’t exactly come out right. So I made a crude diagram to hopefully more clearly illustrate the problem with an angled focus plane.
The blue would be the water line, mustard the pencil, red the focus point on the pencil water line and the purple focused on the pencil above the water line.
Pete, WHAT? Are you sure you had ENOUGH caffine? I'm looking at your diagram and scratching my head... Okay, here is my setup description. Now you must just picture this because I don't know how in the heck you put a diagram on here like you just did, I'm not that talented,,,,yet.... Anyways picture this...a table. on one end of it, my tripod standing with my camera mounted and pointing toward the table at a little angle towards a long baking dish filled with water. I have a bag with water hanging over head dripping into the baking dish which is causing drips. I must then hold a pencil which would be horizontal in front of my camera but ACROSS the water filled baking dish. You might have struck a note when you said that maybe I am focusing above the water, which indeed, I am. I need to get the whole drop in focus, but I am having a hard time doing that. I am getting some great shots, but they are worthless if not in focus. The other gentleman said about focusing on the letters, which seemed to help me hit the focus better, but my drops are still appearing soft. I will get it though. So do you think that could be the biggest problem, that my focus on the pencil writing is ABOVE the water, not ON the water? I don't like that each time I set up to do these drops that my focus is hit or miss, I want it to be straight on all the time , then I can start doing some fancy stuff. I'll see if I have any other drops that look kind of cool and attach them....But for now,,,focus is my issue.....
Great images!! You really have something going here.
Given your description, can you interrupt/stop the drip stream? If so, since you are using a flat bottomed baking dish, could you place something like a stack of coins at the drip location and anchor your focus manually at that location. Remove the coins and restart the drip.
Just a thought.
Roger It's still, ISO, aperture and shutter-speed, right?
#12. "RE: Is this sharp?" In response to Reply # 8
>Pete, WHAT? Are you sure you had ENOUGH caffine? I'm >looking at your diagram and scratching my head...
LOL!!! Hope it’s kicked in enough for this post!
Your subsequent images are much better and amazing to look at, thanks for sharing. I admire your persistence and enthusiasm, which just inspired me to attempt to do this myself. As to the f-stop, while the aperture ring (if your lens has one) or the specs state the maximum as being f/32, there are two possible reasons that that will be different. Many macro lenses when approaching near focus limit will actually be longer in focal length than the rated spec. Since the f-number is a part of a ratio, as the focal length increases the f-number will change because the aperture remains constant. So at near focus range that f/32 could easily become f/45 or more. Also there is a phenomenon known as pupil magnification which will affect the f-number I believe. For example in the OP you said 16 (I take that to infer f/16) but the EXIF states it was taken at f/22.
But as to my illustration, a perfect lens can only truly focus upon a very thin slice in a 3D image field, and that slice with Macro lenses is usually parallel to the sensor (most Macro lenses are flat field). Everything else falls under the CoC and DOF. So theoretically the focal plane is imaged as a point and can be enlarged infinitely and still appear relatively sharp. But unfortunately there’s no such thing as a perfect lens so the focus plane is projected as an airy disk and is bound by the CoC.
With Macro range and 1:1 reproduction distances you are basically nearing just rendering the focal plane which is only a very thin slice in the image field and why the distribution of the DOF is 50-50 I believe. So the focus plane will be at the same angle as the sensor, unless you use a tilt/shift system to compensate.
This illustration basically represents what I believed happened in your first example. The back of the crater as already mentioned appears in focus with the front out of focus. The blue again is the water line, the black the splash pattern and the purple the DOF with the red dot the center of the focus plane (your single focus point in the viewfinder) perpendicular with and aligned to the sensor center.
As you see in this illustration, if the sensor was fairly perpendicular with the water line the DOF would have been deep enough to include the whole crater. But because of the angle, the front of the crater falls outside of the DOF. Keep in mind the DOF does not have a strict demarcation point but is a gradual softening as you move away from the focal plane. So when setting up you need to insure you:
a. Have enough DOF to cover the subject.
b. Place the center of the focal plane in a spot that will allow that angled DOF to cover the whole subject.
I typed the above first thing this morning, but had to run an errand and didn’t get back to it. I subsequently set my gear up to try and see if I could walk the talk having never attempted this myself. I must say it was easier than I thought, but difficult at the same time. But hopefully my experimentation will help you see what I am trying to explain.
This first image above was taken at f/11 with the camera about 6 inches or so above the water with a down angle of around 20°. Like your first example, the crater is not fully in the DOF.
This above example was taken with the same setup and focus distance, but stopped down to f/40. In this instance I am trading off a bit of fine detail due to diffraction to gain a greater DOF. So even though the focus plane is still at the same angle, the whole crater is now within the DOF.
And this last above example is also at F/11, but the whole crater looks to be acceptably sharp; but if you look carefully you will notice the very front and back are a bit soft though. The difference between this one and the first f/11 example is that the camera was only an inch or so above the water, but only at an angle of about 5° placing the sensor almost perpendicular to the water and parallel to the water drop.
#13. "RE: Is this sharp?" In response to Reply # 12
Wow Pete, I am totally impressed!!!!! These are very sharp, and with your first try, I'm jealous! So are you thinking that I change my aperature or change to another lens? What did you use for your lighting and did you do this in the dark? I have been checking out the web and everyone seems to think you have a better chance of preventing ghosting by shooting in dim light or even dark. I am not finding that the case. The two photos that you did like that I posted was in daylight, these others that I have been trying to achieve have been at night and quite frankly I have a harder time seeing what the heck I'm trying to do..It gets very frustrating. Give me an example then of how I should do my set up...Please, and I will call you the waterdrop King!!!!!
#14. "RE: Is this sharp?" In response to Reply # 13
>Wow Pete, I am totally impressed!!!!! >example then of how I should do my set up...Please, and I will >call you the waterdrop King!!!!!
YEAH!!! King, I should be King. Now if you wouldn't mind could you come over to my house and introduce that idea to my wife and convince her it's a good idea!! LOL
I was looking around the house trying to think of what to use, when the idea of the kitchen sink popped in. So I set a blue pyrex baking dish on a spaghetti pot with a white cutting board behind it. I used on SB800 off camera on a light stand camera left about 1.5 feet above the baking dish zoomed to 70mm; aimed more at the cutting board than the drop area in the water.
The camera was set to manual exposure and manual focus with ISO 100, 1/250th shutter speed and varying apertures. I also had the commander mode set to manual for group A and adjusted flash power depending on the aperture. It was shot during the day, but with a shutter speed of 1/250th the ambient light was underexposed making the flash almost the only light source. It was also interesting to see how the flash power acted like shutter speed for stopping motion. When the aperture was wider and flash power throttled down, the flash duration is much shorter than full power. So when I stopped down to f/40 needing to use full power, at M1/1 output the flash duration is 1/1050th captured the smaller splash drops as a blur. At M1/64 output the flash duration is 1/32300th which allows you to freeze the smaller drops.
The main consideration is the camera angle. The higher above the water line and steeper the angle allows you to see more of the splash pattern. Unfortunately that puts the DOF at an agle to the drip plane. So you need to increase the DOF by stopping down. Keeping the camera closer to the waterline and a more shallow angle allows a narrow DOF to cover the whole area easier.
#15. "RE: Is this sharp?" In response to Reply # 14
Pete, I am definetly going to send over the crown and then your wife MUST call you the king!!!! Thankyou so much for all that explaination. I'm going back at it, this time, my object, and yes, I set my sights high, is going to make a water drop with the american flag within it, just in time for 4th of july!!!!!!!! Wish me luck, and pete, thanks a bunch,,,,that has helped....