Tuesday, 31 December 2013

31 December 2013 - Oil on Water Macro Photos

Last shoot of 2013!

I've wanted to try this for ages.  These pics didn't require much effort to set up and I am fairly pleased with the results. 

Cleaning up afterwards was a problem though!

This one is a cheese grater with a few colour reflections.

(Many thanks to Coral for the use of her macro lens.)

 15 February 2014

Brief description of my method to making these images.

Oil on Water
You will need a sheet of clear glass, 4 x cardboard tubes or other non reflective objects to support the glass, a clear glass or plastic bowl without any markings, small amount of cooking oil, water and lastly some sheets of colored art paper.
For your camera you will need a macro lens and two speedlights.  A tripod is also essential.

 Setup as per this sketch.  Make sure that the camera is absolutely square to the water surface otherwise only part of the image will be focused.  Use a small aperture. I found f16 worked well.

Start of by placing a small amount of oil on the water.  Experiment with the power output of the speedlights and the positioning of the colored papers below the bowl.

Stir the oil on the water and photograph it as the droplets merge and make patterns.  Change the positioning of the colored papers frequently to get different effects.  Try overlapping them or cutting them into strips to get interesting effects.

Cheese Grater
 This one is simpler to create.  I used one speedlight mounted off camera and through an umbrella.  I held sheets of colored paper close to the cheese grater and with my other hand fired the camera.  I used a cable release but using the shutter delay setting will also work.

Experiment by holding different colored paper and by altering the angle of the papers. When looking through the camera you will be able to see the reflection on the cheese grater.  If not then it wont show in the photograph either.

Note that when using a macro lens every speck of dust shows up clearly.  Try to keep everything as clean as possible!


  1. I like these abstract photos. Would you elaborate a little more on your process, specifically how you got the color on oil/water. And for the cheese grater what are color reflectors

    1. Hi Monica

      Thank you for looking at my abstract photos. I have added a brief description of my method of creating these images.

      Don't be afraid to experiment. Happy shooting.