Using a laser to stop a drop of water in mid-air

To catch a drop of water in mid-air, or a splash at precisely the right moment, I used a set-up similar to this diagram. A laser beam placed above the camera and in the path of the drops is used to trip the camera.

A timing device is used to delay the moment the camera takes the picture.

This is the actual set used for Splashing Drop. The background of the scene was created with a photograph –a backlit 8x10 transparency.

Even though the photo-background is out of focus, it gives the scene a sense of environment and something more than gray tones to refract in the drop that's falling through the air.

Splashing Drop ©1997 Walter Wick,
From A Drop of Water: a Book of Science and Wonder