CAM & LENS
1. Im shooting with a D80, a mid class DSLR, but relatively new with some fairly decent options & a Sigma 105mm so this isnt a telephoto macro etc its a lens specific for macro, also the 105mm means decent working distance which is a huge help in my situation.
2. Next is setting the scene for such shots, particulars will vary depending on your tap and the surroundings. Im shooting in my toilet with my small crappy toilet sink.
3. I first setup the camera sideways on a tripod and make sure that Im shooting straight directly at the water so I catch all the drip focused as sharp as possible, if you angle the camera up or down some of the drips at the top or bottom of the shot will be out of focus.
4. Then I setup a background, in this case I chose a blue dishrag that was on the floor and pegged it to objects around the tap so that when I looked through the view finder I could just see a running tap and a blur blue dishrag behind.
This is what the setup looked like: [link]
5. Indoors, so the only light is provided from a 65watt globe which is useless and a flash is a must, external flash is a bonus (in this case I didnt have one).
6. Particular camera settings were, Manual Mode, Shutter Speed: 5/1000 second (shows as 200 on the cam), F Number: F/7.1, Focal Length: 105 mm, ISO Speed: 100, Auto white balance.
7. Set flash to 1/8th of its strength, what would have been better is 1/4th of its strength then put tissue paper or something to diffuse the built in flash as it was very sharp and heavy as you can see. Now I adjusted the tap so its dripping suitably and took over 200 shots.
8. After taking the time to select the best image by process of elimination, I convert the RAW file into a 16-bit TIFF in Capture NX, but you can use any program of your choice or edit the jpeg.
9. First I cropped the image using canvas size so it looked like it does, then adjusted the curves and gave it increased contrast which also added depth to all colours.
10. Next I used Hue/Saturation to desaturate the blues & cyans but only slightly. The next step was to use an un-sharpen mask to sharpen it and give it more definition, it also helps the minor motion blur and adds more appeal to the reflection in the droplet.
11. Finally I use the select tool to select everything Except the droplets and add a light Gaussian blur, this smooths out any blemishes that an ugly dish rag shows & helps eyes settle on the droplets as the focal point.