Introduction

The art on display at Infinity Gallery is ultra high–speed flash photography of liquids in motion. What you are seeing is real. It is not computer generated or even enhanced. It is something that happens around us constantly, for example when we pour ourselves a drink, when we wash, or when it rains. But it happens so quickly the human eye cannot see it clearly. The photographs on this website allow you to enjoy the beauty and wonder of this exciting natural phenomenon. The images on display here are unique. They create feelings and provide infinite fascination. The experience for each individual is different. This is truly art.

The Concept

The idea for the art has its roots in Bali. One hot afternoon, the artist found himself in a swimming pool, during a typical Bali rainstorm. With the surface of the water at eye level, he watched the raindrops impact, splash and rebound. He was captivated. That night, he returned with a small digital camera in a clear plastic bag and captured his somewhat crude, very first water drop pictures.

The Method

The photographs are taken in a studio, in total darkness. The drop that is going to be captured falls through an infrared sensor or a laser trigger. An extremely precise timing unit, capable of measuring time down to almost the nanosecond, begins to run. A fraction of a second later, this unit fires the flashes which take the picture, as the drop splashes down. The color and texture of the photograph come from the background. The artist places colorful and interesting items behind the subject. He often uses flowers, postcards, art paper, fabric or other objects. The background is reflected in the water and magnified in the drop. Usually, the images are of plain water. At times, milk and food coloring is used, or oil, soapy water or even paint.

The Equipment

The camera in current use is a Canon 1Ds Mark II, with 16.7 million pixels. On the camera is a Canon L Series lens, 180mm f3.5 macro, usually stopped down to f32, to maximize depth of field. The flash units are Fotronix Stoplight-80, which fire at 1/15,000 of a second (67 microseconds).  Timing and triggering are handled by Bryan Mumford’s Time Machine. The digital images are only cleaned and adjusted (not altered or enhanced) using Photoshop. Printing is done with an Epson 9880, using only original Epson ink, onto Epson Premium Art Canvas. The manufacturer claims these archival quality materials lead to a life expectancy of 175 years for the giclée prints.  The art is sold as limited editions, with runs of 22 prints per image.

1.  The moment of impact
2.  Just after impact
3.  Crown
4.  Crater
5.  Rebound starts
6.  Column rising
7.  Column splits into droplets
8.  Skimmers remain from fallen droplets
9.  Skimmer being re-absorbed
10.  Smaller skimmer is formed

The Artist

Stephan Max Reinhold is a Canadian, currently living in Bali. He has been interested in photography since the age of nine, when his father (also a keen photographer) gave him his first camera. During high school, he worked evenings and weekends at a camera specialty store in Edmonton. He had a medium format camera and a darkroom. Max gave up photography for about 20 years, to study and then practice law in Calgary. When the digital camera revolution was in its infancy, he took up photography as a diversion once again. Water drop photography became the focus of this reborn hobby. Before long, he was selling his drop photography art to friends, colleagues and opposing lawyers alike. Max has retired from the practice of law and now seeks to share his passion with many others, through this website and Infinity Gallery.

Artist’s Statement

“I am hopeful that the images you see on this website bring you to appreciate some aspects of the fascinating and highly entertaining world of drop photography. It is beautiful, fun and educational. For me, it is rewarding to shed some light (literally) on a normally unseen phenomenon of the world around us.

I have most of my best ideas in the middle of the night.”

The Drop Sequence

Water, or liquids of similar viscosity, go through a predictable life cycle when falling into other liquids. When the water drop hits the calm surface of the “target” water, it displaces that water. After a few milliseconds, a splashing crown is formed, made up mainly of the displaced water. Droplets fly everywhere.

The walls of the crown reach a peak and then start to sink. At the same time, the original drop is making its way further into the host liquid. A small crater is formed.

Since fluids have elastic properties, the original drop, now mixing with the surrounding fluid, is shot back up. It forms a column, which rises until gravity stops its progress. At that point, surface tension takes over, causing the column to split into several separate droplets.

These droplets then come back down, to merge with the rest of the water. Some droplets, however, are reluctant to re-assimilate. Instead, they prefer to remain as droplets, skimming around on the surface of the water, which is now calm again. They are perfectly spherical and separated from the rest of the water by a thin layer of air.

Skimmers, as the artist calls them, have a life cycle of their own. When the air between the skimmer and the surface is squeezed out, the bottom of the skimmer is absorbed. The remaining droplet develops enough surface tension to form another skimmer, which then bounces along its merry way.  That skimmer will go through the same cycle one or two more times, until it has been completely re-absorbed.