Ray Scott of Visual Art Photography Tutorials shows us a creative way of shooting macro photos with oil, water, and food coloring. It’s a simple process that yields a variety of artistic results that look totally psychedelic.
You don’t need much for this project except for a few household items you already have. Apart from the oil, water, and food coloring, you’ll need a sheet of glass, a big transparent bowl, small containers for the water and food coloring, and an eye dropper. Although not required, you can also use poster boards to add more color to your images
As for the camera equipment, you’ll need a macro lens, macro extension tubes, or a combination of both for increased magnification. For lighting, you can either use a flash unit or natural light from the window. Apart from that, you can add another light source (he uses a clamp light) for lighting the colored droplets from underneath.
First, get your sheet of glass and prop it up high on a stack of CDs (or even books). Then place the big transparent bowl with a little bit of oil (about a quarter inch) on top of the glass sheet. Next, put your clamp light underneath the glass sheet and a little bit to the side to make the droplets look three-dimensional. Finally, set up your camera directly on top of the bowl. Scott uses a tripod, but if the lighting is good enough, I suppose you can take photos without it.
Dropping the food coloring
Now that you’re all set up, start mixing water and food coloring and place them in separate containers to avoid contamination. Once your colors are ready, you can start dropping them into the bowl of oil using an eye dropper. You can add color to the background by placing a poster board under the bowl. Feel free to experiment with different colored droplets and agitate the mixture to create different effects.
Shooting the droplets
To make sure that the bubbles are sharp, Scott suggests to “make sure your lens is square to the surface that you are focusing on.” That means, you should keep your camera completely horizontal or otherwise, the edges might end up out of focus. If your camera can’t physically get closer to the droplets, you have the option to crop the image later.
If you’re bored photographing flowers all the time with your macro lens, you might be interested in giving this excellent project a try. Shooting macro photos using oil, water, and food coloring so easy to do and the results are infinitely surprising.
Visit Ray Scott’s video channel for more tutorials.