Kiss of the Drops ©Maianer

German photographer Markus Reugels has gained quite a bit of attention over the years for his stunning and colorful high-speed photographs of the shapes and forms created when liquid is dropped into water.

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If you've ever wondered what it takes to get shots like the ones above, here's a behind-the-scenes shot of the table-top rig Reugels currently uses. He shoots with a Sony SLT-A77 and Minolta 100 f2.8 Macro lens. He lights the scene with a Vivitar 285 that he's modified in order to set the output lower than 1/16 power.

The setup Reugels has built allows him to precisely control the drop rate and lighting when creating his unique imagery.

Reugels describes his process to us:

'The basic technique works with two drops. The first drop falls into the water and forms in succession, a crater, then a crown and finally, what I call the "pillar". The second drop must be timed so that it lands on the pillar, with the collision then forming shapes like a mushroom, hat or flying disc. It's actually the distance between the drops that determines the precise shape. At a rate of roughly 10 drops per second you get mushroom shapes. Increase that to about 15 drops per second and you get flying disc shapes. Slow the rate down to about 6 drops per second to create hat shapes. To get smooth shapes that hold their form longer before breaking up, I increase the viscosity of the water drops by adding guar gum.'

It's important to know that Reugels freezes the motion, not with shutter speed, but with flash.  He says, 'You must set the power of the flash lower than 1/16 to get sharp pictures. With such settings the flash duration is faster than 1/16000 second. This is the reason why the shutter speed is not important.'

You can see more of Markus Reugels' imagery on his Flickr photostream.