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Catching the Falling Drop

What it's all about

Actually, this was not my idea but one of my father's secret favourites who has been taking photos like these several times over the last decades. But unlike him, I wanted to take the photos in well-defined time intervals.

These images show a drop of liquid falling down onto a hard plate and crashing there. As you may know, under certain conditions, this produces nice crown-like structures as seen below. The form and thickness of these structures can be changed by variing the amount of liquid which is alredy on the plate.

Since I do not have expensive equipment which would enable me to take a series of photos every millisecond, I used a series of drops and photographed them at different times. As the drop crash involves chaotic processes, the image series below shows certain differences when comparing successive frames.

Some technical background information on how these images were made is available on a separate page.
Close-ups of images below will be made available later.

Deep waters

This series shows the drop falling into a quite thick layer of liquid. The photos were taken at different times shown in each image on the left bottom. The time "0 milliseconds" was chosen to match the first contact as well as possible. Exposure was below 400us (1/2500s). Especially note that the drop is completely spherical and has no special "drop shape" (which is a common misperception).

Crashing drop overview (B) [73kb]

Shallow waters

This time, I tried to make the liquid film really thin. Unfortunately, it is not as easy to get a continuous thin film of approximately constant thickness. Note that this time the complete process happens much more quickly than in the above series.

Crashing drop overview (C) [62kb]

Some interesting snapshots

These are selected images I made during preparation or while experimenting around.

Where is the wall? [5kb]
[click to enlarge: 29kb JPG]

Really tiny crown [4kb]
[click to enlarge: 29kb JPG]

Drop entering [4kb]
  Drop on brick [4kb]  

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Last modified: 2005-07-09 13:56:57