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Tools - Digital Cameras


Splash on a coin

Steven Butcher, Alex Crouse, Dimple Patel



Producing the familiar crown from the splash of a milk drop requires that the drop fall into a thin layer of milk. A coin has just enough of a lip on the edge to hold a small amount of milk. Obtaining good photographs of splashes is a challenge. A typical splash has the diameter of a quarter, as shown above, and the camera must be positioned close to the splash in order to make the image as large as possible. This requires the use of a small lens aperture in order to increase depth-of-field. With the small aperture, the intensity of the flash lighting must be increased. While this can be done by increasing the flash duration, the latter must be kept small enough to freeze the image. These experimenters increased the flash intensity by using a focusing filter on the flash unit.


Careful focusing is especially important at small camera-to-subject distances. The Nikon Coolpix 990 has a manual focusing option. At small distances, the camera allows selection of the camera-to-subject distance in increments of a centimeter (0.4 inch). In order to obtain the finer control of focusing that is needed for splash photography, the camera is moved toward or away from the splash site in order to match the distance selected in the camera. 


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Camera Nikon Coolpix 990
Lens aperture f/11
Shutter (seconds) bulb
ISO 200
Image size (pixels) 1024 x 768
Image resolution (dpi) 72
Trigger Photogate
Flash Vivitar 283

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