Fancy perfecting a new photography technique while waiting for Trick-or -Treaters to call? Well, mastering a water crown could be just what the doctor ordered to while away an hour or two – here’s how to do it!

Camera Settings

  • ISO 250 or lower to reduce ‘noise’

  • F-stop 11 or higher for a crisp focus

  • Shutter speed around 600 to ‘freeze’ the action

  • Burst mode to make sure you don’t miss a moment of the action


Those settings on your camera settings will mean that you need a well lit space. If the available light is somewhat lacking, you could use a lightbox around the subject area, or set up some white paper or card to bounce a flash off.

Using a flash will give you a virtual shutter speed the same as the speed of the flash. The flash ‘freezes’ the action, so it does not matter if you are shooting at 1/200th of a second, the flash will act as a virtual shutter at 1/12000th.


The shallower the liquid the better the water crown – 1mm deep is a good depth to start. Generally speaking, the deeper the water, the less of a crown effect you will get, but you will get some awesome movement, so don’t hold back on experimenting!

  • A glass vessel is good for diffracting light

  • Milk is good for beginners as it has a higher viscosity

  • Cold water is better than warm water as it has higher density

  • Adding a food dye can give enhanced droplet definition

  • A sheet of coloured card or paper under the bowl can also highlight the detail of the water crown

@carole_sandford has the right idea with this simple but effective set up!

To create a good drip experiment with a variety of tools from a turkey baster to a science lab pipette.

  • A smaller dropper gives a more controlled water crown

  • Start your drip height at 30cm and work your way up to a metre to see what effects you can get

How To Do It

  • Mount your camera on a tripod

  • Choose aperture priority

  • Hold an object or float some paper where the drop will hit to focus your shot

  • Choose burst mode to make the process of capturing a good shot much faster

  • If you are chief dripper, use a remote to release the shutter as you drop your drip

  • Alternatively get a willing assistant to drop the drip, and be sure to release the shutter in the vital milliseconds before impact!

  • Check your shot, make one adjustment to settings or setup at a time until you achieve the result you are after!


You will need plenty of patience and practice! Not only have you got to nail some intense photography techniques, you have to be able to get a good water crown to appear in the first place. Combining the two takes time, and effort – but the results are well worth it!

Good luck… and don’t forget to show us the results of your experiments, and of course your own special tips in the comments below!

October 31st, 2013
Fabulous pointers and advice... and perfect examples, thank you. :)
October 31st, 2013
I have to share this to show that you can get a water crown in deeper water - you just need a really big drop.... Or this case a balloon. Thanks for sparking some new ideas.
October 31st, 2013
Fab pics and great tips, thanks.
October 31st, 2013
Thanks - great tips there. Love the example images!
October 31st, 2013
Oooh shall have to give this another go using the advice given...thank you:-)
October 31st, 2013
Oh I think I might have to try this tomorrow...if I find a couple of hours to spare :)
November 1st, 2013
Oh yes, I need some inspiration! Thanks!
November 8th, 2013
Thanks. I always wanted to try this.
April 14th, 2014
here is my water crown
August 18th, 2014
Thanks so much for this info. Unfortunately it turns out my camera doesn't have the "burst" mode. I even googled it lol but I gave it a go and fiddled around with the settings, mind you, I now smell like milk ha ha Here is my first attempt. I think the bowl was too deep.
March 22nd, 2022
Thanks always wanted to know how it was done
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