I think I agree with your assessment cc but our verbiage may be different!
What causes water (or any other transparent glossy substance) to photograph well are the specular highlights and the gradients to black. White light was shot into the lemon/knife shot and because of the spherical quality of a water drop they picked up speculars. Were it not for them the drops would be invisible, lost in the black BG. With a white BG the drops would have to have a negative outline (black) or else they would also be lost in the BG. Same with glass.
An example of a light field glass shot…
Without the black lines/gradients the glass wouldn’t be there and the same goes for clear liquid shot on a light field. No reflective lighting on the breaking wine glass here. The glass is lit by the BG lighting. Same with the green colored water. Only lit by the BG lighting.
I am a huge fan of splashing milk cc! Except I don’t! Milk doesn’t photograph well (tends to blue).
The phone shot is 1:1 Elmers glue and H2O and you can control the viscosity as needed! Talk about your mess! My feet were stuck to the floor!
I love Wieczorkiewicz’s work. Paul Buff uses his “Silver Angel” and “Right Scale” to advert his Einstiens, which were used exclusively in Wieczorkiewicz’s shoots.