Water and Oil Drop Photography – Judy Sara


52 Week Challenge –anyone want to play? This post on the BPC flickr site started a photographic adventure.

Images of M&Ms, photographed through water, for the challenge ‘Artistic: Candy’, grabbed my attention. Wow – how did they do that? Luckily the photographer posted the video – Water Droplets: Ep 221: Digital Photography 1 on 1  on the Dogwood Photography Chatter Facebook Group and others shared their trials using the process.  Now all I had to do was try it!Glass Plate 1

I found an old glass aquarium lid and purchased a bottle of RainX from an Auto Accessory store. This is the secret to great water drops as RainX creates a smooth water repellent surface on the glass. Spray the RainX on a dry cloth then rub over the glass in a circular motion. Allow to dry for about 30 minutes, then gently rub off any haze.

A couple of old shoe boxes provided a support for the glass and then I had fun looking so things to put underneath. I tried clothing, scarves and mini M&Ms.  A spray bottle was used to squirt water onto the glass. Because of the hydrophobic surface the water beaded beautifully and the surface became a series of tiny magnifying glasses. These could be moved into different positions using a wooden skewer. The skewer could also split the droplets or merge a number together to make larger droplets.

I used a M. Zuiko 60mm macro lens on my Olympus E-M1 (four thirds) camera. I don’t have an off camera flash so tried using lamps. These caused too many reflections on the droplets so my photos were taken using natural light from a window.  It was trial and error as I played around with the aperture and shutter speed. Unfortunately the glass I used had scratches on it that showed up when I used f/20! I found that f/8 worked well with a shutter speed around ¼ s.  The tilt screen was definitely put to use to make sure the camera was straight and to check the focus.

Glass Plate 2The glass supported by the shoe boxes can also be used for oil drop photography. I placed a small amount of water in a jar then used a syringe to drop some canola oil onto the water. As oil and water do not mix, oil droplets form on the water surface and transmit the colours of whatever is under the glass. The oil drop photo below was taken using the 60mm macro lens at F/10, 1/3s using ISO 800.

You can also create the magnifying lens effect using oil drops, by dispensing the oil via an oil sprayer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA For the photo above I wanted more control over the composition so I surrounded a yellow mini M&M with red ones. The oil sprayer deposited drops of different sizes on the water surface and the smallest ones acted as lenses. Once again the 60mm macro lens was used at F/3.5, 1/20 s, ISO 200.

If you are interested in water lens photography look at the fantastic work of Don Kamarechka.  Each photograph is accompanied by a description of the technique he used. One of my favourites is here.


Judy Sara

Previous                             Back                              Next