Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Oil on Water Abstract Images Set-Up

As promised here is simple way to take some amazing abstract pictures of oil droplets on water. All you need is a glass dish with clear bottom, some sort of glass table if you will be using small dish like I did, some colorful picture or paper for background and spot light or table lamp (with mini fluorescent or halogen bulb), small bowl for oil and eye dropper. Since the focusing is so critical good tripod is a must and focusing rail is big help but not necessary. The tripod, background and eye dropper are the most important items for this shoot. I used birthday card with images of different color golf balls and tees and also book cover from “Color mixing bible”. Both have bold and clear colors. When you start shooting it is good idea to pre-focus the lens and get everything ready. Use the depth-of-field button on your camera to make sure that the background is out of focus. Since I was using 50mm macro lens in 1:1 ratio with very shallow depth-of-field even at f/11 it is not a problem. If the background is too sharp even at lowest f-stop you have to increase distance between water surface and background picture. All is left to do now is to play around with exposure and start dropping tiny drops of oil. If the droplets combine, break them up with sharp needle or toothpick just like stirring coffee with a spoon. When you do that and look through viewfinder you will see amazing scene.

I shaded the lamp with silver Mylar to protect lens from stray light and to reflect more light on background. It is the background that lights up the picture. Notice the small dish for water.
Camera is mounted to focusing rail.
Background for pictures #1 and #5.
 Background for pictures #2, 3 and 4.

I took a movie of breaking the oil drops and it looks like some Sci-Fi flick.

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