Macro photography abstracts

colorful oil and water macro

Are you looking for inspiration in the cold winter months? Or anytime you’re stuck inside and can’t get out? This photography idea is a great way to spend an afternoon with your camera and practice macro. Most likely you have everything you need in your home!

What you’ll need:

*large glass pan (I used a 13×9 pyrex baking pan)

*water & oil; canola or vegetable oil will work best (I used olive oil which worked but it’s denser)

*colorful wrapping paper, gift bag, magazine, placemat, the options are only limited by your imagination and/or contents of your home!

*books or other items to support the glass pan

*camera with macro lens; you can use a tele-photo lens but will need to be further away from your subject

*tripod is optional (I hand held all my shots to practice getting focus)

colorful oil and water macro

Find a spot in your home with good light from a window or door. I set up by a window but since it was a rainy, overcast day I did use a soft-box to add light. Fill your glass dish with about 1″ of water and place on a stable surface to provide approximately 3-4″ of height from your colored background. Wait until the water has settled before adding oil. I used a spoon and dropped oil around the pan then stirred gently. Once the oil has settled and stopped moving you can begin taking photos! Here’s a look at my set-up. The soft-box is off to the right to give me even light and room to maneuver.

colorful oil and water macro

Be aware of the pyrex symbol stamped in the middle of the pan, if you use pyrex. While this isn’t always a distraction, it can be. Focus on the water and not your background. Also be aware of the edge of the pan so you don’t have that “line” in your image. My settings were f/4, SS 1/250 and ISO ranged from 1600 to 4000, whatever was needed for proper exposure.

The first two images were taken from above while the image below was taken at an angle. You can experiment to see what “look” you like best. Too much stirring of the oil will create larger bubbles as can be seen below.

pastel colors oil and water macro

I also used my Lensbaby Velvet56 for a few images but found I liked the macro lens results best. The below image is taken with the Velvet56.

colorful oil and water lensbaby

Change out your background to give you different colors but be careful to not bump the glass pan. Or, like me, I moved the glass pan each time and had to wait for the water/oil to settle again 😉

colorful oil and water macro

Choose whatever color options you like and then have fun in post processing. You can also add food coloring but I didn’t have any so I’ll save that for another day.

darker colors oil and water macro

I’d love to see any images you create after reading this so be sure to tag me on social media!

Photograph what brings you Joy!

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