Beautiful macro photos perfectly capture colorful splashing liquid

Australian photographer Craig Loechel went from blindly experimenting with a water droplet kit for the first time to mastering the art of liquid macro photography.

The unpredictable nature of liquid art photography

Loechel has been “a serious photographer” for over 13 years, but says he had a strong interest in art from an early age. He shoots a wide variety of subjects, but macro and extreme macro in particular stand out as his favorite genres.

In 2016, his friend David offered to lend him a water drop kit, knowing that Loechel loved to experiment and try new things in photography. Without any prior research, it took Loechel several days to figure out how to get basic collisions with water droplets.

“It was quite a struggle,” says Loechel PetaPixel† But after his first crash image, he was hooked. First he started experimenting with different lighting setups and gradually learned to make more advanced formations.

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“The biggest appeal of creating liquid art is its technical nature,” explains Loechel. “It gives me great satisfaction to get an image that will wow you when you see it in the back of the camera.”

“There are a lot of things that have to be right for that to happen and then there’s often something that comes out of nowhere and shocks you. This is the unpredictable nature of playing with liquids that I also find appealing,” he adds to.

Mastering the setup for a successful droplet collision

For many, the biggest challenge with a liquid art shoot is finding the right settings, says Loechel. He has seen a number of photographers write down their settings, but that is not the right approach for his photography.

“There are many factors that influence this. Fluid viscosity and temperature can never be exactly the same and there are so many other variables,” he explains. “The best thing you can do is get to know the functions of your controller and learn how water droplets are formed. Slow-motion videos on YouTube are a good place to start.”

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That is how Loechel himself started. He watched a lot of slow-motion videos to understand the dynamics of collisions. Being high-speed photography, he uses a low-power flash, such as 1/64, to freeze the motion with an extremely short exposure time.

For drops, Loechel uses a professional MJKZZ 6 Valve controller, but designs and 3D prints its own nozzles. Along with air pressure, nozzles spray the liquid out in various shapes on the outside and also collide in the center with droplets released from above.

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When Loechel has all the components in order for his shoot, he says the satisfaction is like no other. Finding a successful standout amongst many who have not made it, encourages Loechel to continue, taking photography as “the best therapy” he could wish for.

On the other hand, his least favorite part is the aftermath: cleaning up the mess.

More work by Loechel can be found on his website and Instagram.


Image Credits: Photos by Craig Loechel.

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