Creating water drop collisions with the Pluto Trigger can be an extremely fun and rewarding process. It can also be extremely frustrating. I will attempt to explain things here but I have also put together two videos to show the process of how to do it which are linked below. The first video shows the setup, I show 2 different ways to connect flashes, the valve, and your camera so that you can start capturing water drop collisions. In the second video I show the process of getting the two drops to collide. There are a lot of things that I didn’t cover in the video that pertain to getting artistic photos, I will mention those briefly here but do not plan to make a video on it at any time in the future.
First of all there are two, potentially three different ways to set the Pluto and Valve up in order to get results. The first and most simple way is to plug the Pluto into the valve and then plug the Pluto into your flash. For this you need one camera, one flash and nothing more to trigger them than what came in the box with the Pluto and the Valve. You can add more flashes to this method by purchasing wire splitters, which are available from Pluto, and splitting your wire out to as many flashes as you like. This method requires it to be perfectly dark as you will be working with long shutter speeds to capture the action. First set the shutter speed to 1-2 seconds. Then trigger the shutter so that it is open. Then start the trigger. The flashes with illuminate the scene and capture the image to the open sensor.
The second method, my preferred method, I plug the valve into the Pluto then plug the Pluto into the camera, the camera then fires the flashes using a wireless transmitter. I like this method because it allows me to work with the lights on. In this method I am able to set the shutter speed to 1/200 of a second which makes the entire scene dark aside from what is illuminated by the flashes. The flashes are then triggered with the wireless transmitter.
The third method I have not tested so I am not even sure that it works. The third method would be a hybrid method because the Pluto allows you to trigger your camera with IR. In theory you could plug the Pluto into your flashes with a wire and also use it to trigger the camera with the IR trigger. I think this creates too many variables but if you’re feeling spry you could give it a shot.
When it comes to the water basin I usually set the valve up about 1 foot above it, meaning that the bottom of the valve is roughly one foot above the top of the water. I fill the catch basin all the way to the brim, because of this I always make sure to have it inside of a second basin to catch the overflow. As for mixing the water I show how to do it in both videos. In the first video I mix in some borax, in the second I use just plain water. It’s possible to get great collisions without mixing anything in but I have found to get big stringy drops you need to add something. I have experimented with all sorts of stuff but I always use borax as a base. I have experimented by adding in some acrylic paint for color, food coloring and corn syrup. Keep in mind that adding things to the water changes the consistency and will also change the required settings.
Lastly, to get a drop to collide with another drop you need to get the first drop to fall, drop, hit the water then rebound to it’s highest point. This will give you a pillar. The best way to do this is to shut off drop 2 completely and just photograph drop one until it is at that point. Once drop one is at that point then add in drop 2. Keep in mind that the drop 2 delay will always be less than your flash delay, typically by a considerable amount.
When it comes to the artistic stuff you can add things to your water as I mentioned or you can use flash gels, interesting backgrounds, really when it comes to this there are no limits, use your imagination and have fun! If you have any questions that weren’t cleared up by this or the videos please feel free to shoot me an email I will do my best to help you out. If you want to see some images that I have captured using the Pluto trigger click here.
If you found this helpful and would like to help me out you can use this affiliate link (or the one at the top of the article) to make purchases from Pluto, you can also become a supporter on Patreon.
Thanks for stopping by, have a great day!