Inspired by my friend Caroline over at the Caz Photo Blog I decided to have a go at doing some water splashes myself. The last time I did water droplet photos, I used an underwater housing and an olympus compact which can sync flash at 1/2000th second, which is pretty damn handy. They are the only water splash macro's taken from under the water that I have seen.
Sadly my Olympus has ceased functioning and I wanted to try something other than direct flash. As I am currently re-reading Light Science and Magic, I decided to use the dark field technique, which is used to add form to glass. I thought this would work nicely with the water. The technique is to basically place a large light source behind the subject and then place a black card between the subject and the light, so that it only just fills the viewfinder. This means that there will only be direct reflections of the large light source at the edges of the glass/water.
For my large light source I used two SB28s set at 18mm zoom 1/16th power to bounce off a white wall. I used an A4 sheet of black card as my dark fill, set up the camera with a 50mm lens and pre-focussed. The disadantage of using the dark field lighting is that you don't get a great deal of light from the flashes illuminating the subject with diffused light. So there is a compromise to be made with the depth of field and the power of the flash. The more power to the flash, the longer the flash exposure and the slower the recycle times. A more efficient way to light the scene might be to use a backlit translucent panel, which would place the light source closer to the subject.
One thing to watch out for is to turn down the ambient light. Even thought there is not enough ambient to light the scene, direct reflections of things lit by the ambient light, are visible in the picture. If you look carefully you might see my hallway.