Smartphones are great, whether you’re grabbing quick snapshots of the kids smearing icing on themselves, making a low-budget film (they’re surprisingly good, actually), or immortalizing your visage in a selfie. But, without interchangeable lenses, one area where they lack is in focal control. Having this power over your technology is important for things like macro photography. While there are a variety of hacks for using your smartphone to capture tiny details, some can get rather complicated.
Instructables user Znaffi (we’ll call him Mr. X) shows us how to use a simple water droplet to turn your mobile device into a macro powerhouse. We touched on this a while back, but Mr. X gives us a full breakdown of this simple and basically-free technique.
You Will Need:
- Smartphone or tablet
- A cloth/towel/shirttail for drying up excess water
- Headphones with volume buttons (or a dedicated bluetooth remote for actually clicking the shutter)
- Cotton swabs, syringe, or medicine dropper for dispensing your droplet
- Water (obviously)
- Now, the process is pretty simple. Mr. X advocates using the camera on the front of your mobile device (although he provide details for using the rear camera as well), so that’s what we’ll stick with.
- Place your mobile device on a flat surface wit the front-ward facing camera facing…well…frontward.
- Using a cotton swab, syringe, or medicine dropper, carefully place a single drop of water over the camera lens. Make sure the droplet is big enough to cover the entire camera but not too big that it breaks its surface tension and runs all over the place.
- Using the headphones (or other remote shutter release device type thingy), take your photos while holding your macro subject above the camera. Or, you can simple skip using a remote and press the shutter button yourself if you’ve got a steady hand.
- Drink a beer and feel accomplished.
Mr. X provides some additional instruction on the proper size of the water droplet necessary to achieve the best results.
“The smaller the drop is, the closer you can focus on your object. The bigger the drop gets, the more it flattens out. When the drop flattens out, we lose the effect of a lens, as the drop has to be in a ‘dome’ shape.”
So, if you’re looking for a little fun this weekend, break out your phone, pour a bit of that sparkling ice water over it, and have fun. Want to experiment with the effect a bit? Try some lemonade…beer…or margarita slush for some varied results.
For Mr. X’s full tutorial, or to see some additional (and somewhat creepy) examples of the images he captured with this technique, head over to Instructables and check the complete tutorial!
[“Water Drop Macro Lens” by