The Gelatin Photo Project

More GelatineAfter doing a similar multiplicity project with water, Vik J. shows us how to use Jello and water to create amazing repeating patterns and light painting.

If you’re looking at a hot and humid weekend forecast, try this instead of going to the mall.

Stuck for something to do on a rainy day? Find yourself a piece of glass, some gelatine and water. I never realized that these simple things could provide so much fun!

Technique #1 – Smiley Pics

water and gelatine smiley

Having mixed your gelatine and water let it cool then use a syringe to form beads of liquid gel on a sheet of glass leave it for an hour or so until it has set. Now set the glass up about 40cm above your subject. Set your camera on a tripod looking down onto the refractions in the gel beads on the glass sheet. Your subject could be virtually anything, a flower, printed words, smileys etc. What you are trying to achieve is to capture the subject sharply focused in the gel beads.

water and gelatine smiley setup

Technique #2 – Light Pics

Water and gelatin

Put the gelatine beads onto the glass as usual. Mount the glass about 12.5cm above a background. Set your camera on a tripod focusing onto the gelatine beads. Set your camera to bulb and fit the remote shutter release. Take a set of Christmas lights and ‘waft’ them under the glass whilst the shutter is open.

water and gelatine light set up


  • Mix your gelatine/water mix at about 2/3 of the directions on the packet.
  • The refractions will be upside down versions of your subject.
  • You could mount the glass in a vertical plane to give more possibilities (the gelatine beads will not move).
  • Keep the glass as clean as possible
  • The gelatine beads will eventually dry out..
  • The gel mix can be stored for a few days, To get it to liquefy again add a little water to it and then microwave it for a few seconds, you should then be able to re use it.
  • Put the beads onto the glass using an eye dropper or a syringe (without the needle).
  • Apparently pig gelatine is clearer than beef gelatine.
  • Personally I use a remote shutter release and long exposures for my images.
  • Watch out for reflections from lights, window frames etc that can appear in your image.
  • Air bubbles are one of your enemies as well and should be avoided.

More Gelatine

About The Author

When David Michael Victor Waters (or as everybody knows him – Vik J) works on an oil rig, When he is not being assigned to save the earth from an imminent asteroid hit he takes wonderful pictures.

  • GJH

    How much mix should you put onto the glass? Is it a large drop in a dome shape, or a flatter drop?. I have tried this with your guide and I can’t get the image of my picture in the droplets. Any help please.