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11 Oct 2013

Inspired by my earlier post on Fruit Splashes Photography, I decided to experiment and play with more liquid-based related photography, and share it in everyone over the next few posts. I started off with the photography of oil on water as it would be the easiest in terms of setup and less messy to fiddle with.

The Setup and Equipment

My setup was very simple using just a single off-camera flash as illustrated below:

Before Shooting

Before shooting, the lens will need to be pre-focus on the surface of the water. As it is difficult to focus on the water surface, I did the following:
  • Place a piece of color paper on the surface of the water in the fish tank.
  • Set the lens on auto-focus mode and focus on the piece of color paper on the water surface.
  • Once the focus is made, take out the piece of color paper on the water and switch the lens to manual focus.

Check and Adjust Exposure and Flash Power

Once the pre-focus is done, you are ready to start pouring fair amount of oil into the water and start shooting. You should take a shot to see how the exposure turn out to be. Adjust your camera settings and flash power accordingly based on your setup.

Interesting Outcome and Pictures

The outcome of each shot is very different with the oil on water. Try stirring the water or pour in more oil to create interesting pictures. Also try out the following:

#1: Different colored gels placed over the flash to produce different colored effects.

#2: Placing colored papers or objects on the floor directly below the fish tank for other effects.

#3: Use a dropper to carefully drop some colored water into the middle of oil blobs - they will float in the middle of the oil blobs :)

Try it out - it is fun, simple to setup and yet produce surprising results.

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