Cre­ate a globe in a droplet of wa­ter

More ocean in the drop than drop in the ocean...

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01 Po­si­tion the map

Po­si­tion a world map up­side-down with a glass of wa­ter in front of it. If you don’t have a world map, down­load one from www.nasa.gov and print it at A3. Set your cam­era on a tri­pod, and fix a wa­ter drop­per to a stand above the glass so that the drops hit the same spot ev­ery time they fall.

04 Stay sharp

Pre­cise fo­cus­ing is tricky. The so­lu­tion: grab a pen­cil. Let a few drops fall to de­ter­mine where they’ll hit the wa­ter, lay the pen­cil along the top of the glass at the point where they fell, switch to man­ual fo­cus and fo­cus on it, then re­move it.

02 Light the print

An­gle an off-cam­era flash to­wards the map. Ours was trig­gered us­ing the cam­era’s pop-up flash and Nikon’s Cre­ative Light­ing Sys­tem, but a wire­less trig­ger or short cable will also work. Set the flash power low so it’s fast enough to freeze the mo­tion of the droplet. We used 1/32 power.

05 Dim the lights

The drops will move fast, and any light other than the flash may blur their mo­tion, so darken the room to keep am­bi­ent light to a min­i­mum (it doesn’t need to be pitch black). Al­low the drops to fall and fire the shut­ter as they hit the sur­face.

03 Think about set­tings

Se­lect Man­ual mode and set the shut­ter speed to your cam­era’s max sync speed (1/250 sec in this case). You’ll need a small aper­ture for max­i­mum depth of field, but you also want to use low flash power, so you’ll have to in­crease the ISO. We set the aper­ture to f/16 and the ISO to 400.

06 Time it right

You need to press the shut­ter at the mo­ment the drop hits the wa­ter, which is tricky. Be pre­pared to spend a while drop­ping and shoot­ing un­til you cap­ture a spher­i­cal drop. When you do cap­ture one, check it’s sharp us­ing your LCD screen.

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