Continued from previous post…
While it is a bit complicated getting the photographic equipment assembled, tested, and reliable, the true challenge is handling the liquids.
They are willfully non-linear.
It seems that everything in the world affects how they behave: viscosity, surface tension, density, temperature, the shape of the dropper, and what the cat had for dinner. Learning to control these variables is what demands the patience and creativity.
I use myriad arrangements to create the shapes: sometimes carefully placed beads of liquid on a flat surface, sometimes drops in free-fall, sometimes drops landing on a dry, flat surface, sometimes splashes of drops into a pool or with other drops, and sometimes multiple drops or splashes. And there are many things to be done with altering the physical properties of the liquids. I increase the viscosity with glycerin (because it doesn’t affect the surface tension much) I use dishwasher rinse aid to reduce the surface tension (because it doesn’t create bubbles, like soap does). Someone recently suggested Kodak Photo-Flo, instead, and it looks like a good choice. Food coloring works pretty well to add color. Aniline dyes are richer, but they affect the surface tension more than food coloring.
Propelled by the vicious cycle of serendipity and curiosity, I keep coming up with new things to try. And other people have plenty of ideas. The most intriguing so far has been the suggestion to try a high concentration of DNA in water. That would have never crossed my mind.