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14 Oct 2013

I stumbled upon an amazing science experiment article on color changing milk, and I was rather surprised with the colorful patterns that it created. Since it was raining outside today and the experiment was fairly easy to setup, I decided to give it a try and take pictures of the colorful patterns that it can create.

What Materials are Needed?

  • A disposable plate - I used a paper plate but I think plastic disposable plate would be better choice as the paper plate would be difficult to disposed after soaking with milk for some time.
  • Milk - If I'm not wrong, milk with high fat content works best.
  • Food Coloring - Can have as many color as desired. I have used 4 colors: Blue, Red, Yellow, Green.
  • Dish Washing Liquid

How to Create an Explosion of Colors?

Step 1: Pour enough milk into the disposable plate. Leave the milk to settle down in the plate. (Note: While waiting for the milk to settle, I went on to set up my camera, tripod and lighting equipment.)

Step 2: Add 1-2 drops of the each food coloring into the center of the milk. As the food coloring is less dense than milk, they will remain saturated at the place where it dropped onto the milk.

Step 3: Pour 1 drop of dish washing liquid into the center of the milk and watch the food coloring "explode". While it is "exploding", you can also try pouring drops of dish washing liquid at the edge of the plate and watch how the "explosion" collide with each other.

(Note: The explosion will happen the moment the dish washing liquid is dropped into the milk. You should standby to start triggering your shots.)

Why the explosion of colors?

Based on my understanding it is not the food coloring that "exploded". The dish washing liquid actually breaks up the fat molecule structure in the milk, thus causing movement in the milk which carries the food coloring with them. 

Just google if you are interested in the scientific explanation - I'm more interested in the colorful patterns it creates :)

Lighting Setup

Basically only sufficient light is needed to illuminate the milk surface so as the capture the "explosion" of colors. I had used an off-camera flash that is placed on the right side of the plate, and a white reflector on the opposite side to fill up and eliminate any shadow.

My camera is mounted on a tripod, facing down and perpendicular to the surface of the milk. I also had a wireless trigger for the camera so that I can trigger the shoot immediately after the dish washing liquid is poured in. All shots were taken at ISO100, F9 and 1/200s.

Try it out - Simple to setup, Fun to Watch and Gives Different Exciting Pictures