Amazing Photographs of Water Droplets Colliding

From Smithsonian:

Water-droplet-Irving-OlsonThere is a real science to Irving Olson’s art. So much so, in fact, that the 98-year-old photographer has converted the kitchen of his Tucson home into a miniature laboratory. Olson’s latest experiment involves photographing the precise moment when two water droplets collide. He resolved to this challenging task about a year ago, after seeing a black-and-white image of this type in Rangefinder, a technical photography magazine. “I went to work on it,” says Olson, “and I added color.”

Olson rigs a little water chamber, extending from a tripod, above a pan of water. (See a similar setup here.) He dyes each vat of water a different hue with food coloring. Using a device called a “Time Machine,” Olson controls the number and size of the water drops released from the chamber’s electric valve, as well as the length of time, to the thousandth of a second, in between drops and in between the release of a drop and the flash of his Nikon D800 camera. “When you release a drop of water into a pan of water, it drops down and it jumps back up out of the water about two inches,” says Olson. “The trick is when drop number one has come up about two inches, the second drop has to come and hit it right on the head.”

More here.