The dog days of summer: Water droplets with Bob Coates

Words by Bob Coates - A Platypod Pro
Edited by Eryka Bagwell


"Water droplet photography is ideal when you’re stuck indoors. You can go to a local framer and ask for a sheet of picture frame glass. I like to use a 20×30-inch piece. If you don’t want to buy a specific piece of glass ‘borrow’ the glass from a picture frame in your house. Make sure the glass is level so your water drops don’t run away from you. It’s also important that the glass is treated properly. I include a few tips below."

"Part of the secret to good-looking droplets is treating your glass with Rain X. Rain X not only allows the water to run off your car windshields quickly but it also makes water bead up on the glass, making the shape better for recording subjects in the droplets. Follow the directions to spray on the glass. Then, wait at least a half-hour before allowing the surface to become wet. I strongly suggest making sure you have proper ventilation (or treat your glass outdoors)."

"A tip I learned the hard way (you may want a spray water bottle). You may want to fill your bottle a day or two before you have your session. Filling up from the tap and using right away ends up causing air bubbles thus causing me to do a fair amount of unnecessary retouching on one of my projects. An alternate is using distilled water which may not result in air bubbles in your droplets."

"After playing with the spray bottle with straight water I tried a mixture of glycerin and water. I used distilled water mixed 50/50. The mixture was placed in a dropper bottle. The dropper allows for placing drops exactly where you want them. With the combination of glycerin and water placed on the Rain X treated glass my water drops held their shape."

"This is one of those projects where you start with flowers as the natural first subjects and start experimenting with anything vibrant and colorful that will fit under the glass. For this shoot, I raided my fruit drawer and used various combinations of fruit."

"You can handhold your camera and lens. However, I find that I have more control when mounted (especially if you want to increase the depth of field by using focus stacking). For me, the camera works best when directly over the water drops. I used a combination of Platypod gear including the Platyball Elite and a Platypod Handle along with other gear seen in my behind-the-scenes below. It’s also helpful if using a macro lens and trying to accomplish some focus stacking as part of your capture process. See the photo for my set and description of gear. Camera Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III with a 60mm macro lens."

Learn more about these captures on You can view more of Bob Coates' work by visiting his website and/or Instagram page.

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