Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Oil and water don't mix . . . a tutorial

 It's a good thing that oil and water don't mix, because photographically speaking it makes for some really interesting photos. I'm sharing how I made these images, but also want to share my inspiration behind them.

I had originally tried this over a year ago when I saw the idea in one of my photography books by Bryan Peterson and hadn't thought much about it until recently. My inspiration to try this again came from a bible study I just finished by Beth Moore called James [Mercy Triumphs] and on week 3 day four, the title of the lesson was, The Folly of Favoritism.

Ouch!
Have you noticed how society tries to pretend that the two [faith and favoritism] can be blended into a nice cocktail when actually no matter how much you try to stir them together they will always separate, just like oil and water. In truth, we demonstrate the reality of our faith by the way we live, how we favor some people over others. And as a society we are constantly going against that character of faith when we choose appearance as what is important. We are constantly influenced to be impressed by status, wealth and fame and to find favor with the haves rather than the have nots. But our outwardly appearance tells nothing of who we really are, how we favor others does. This was definitely a mirror looking lesson for sure, some things didn't look so nice and in the weeks since I have been paying a lot more attention to my thoughts and my part in this.  Beth said, "Let's let this segment of Scripture [James 2:1-7] speak its brutal truth to us, because, if this shoe fits, we need to burn it." I am human . . .  and I don't know about you, but I have a few stinky shoes to burn because I don't want to add to the world's pollution.

So I set out to give myself a tangible reminder on how faith and favoritism don't mix. And you know what, no matter how much I stirred, that oil and water always separated. It did however, make some pretty pictures.


My set up and how-to are after the photos:

[f 14]


[f.7.1 ]


[ f 5.6 ]


[ f 4.5 ]


[ f 6.3 ]



[ f 6.3 ]
This one wasn't completely in focus, but I like how it turned out.


[ f 10 ]
 This is a side view into the container.


[ f 10 ]
It may be hard to see but there are tiny pieces of lint or fuzz and dirt that blew into the water.


[ f 7.1 ]

In the above and below photos, I used a really large pattern of jelly beans (scrapbook paper).
I love how these turned out.

[ f 4.0]


First, you'll need a clear glass pan. It's better if there aren't any impressed markings on the bottom, although mine did have them-you'll just have to shoot around it. The pan will also need to have a small handle on the edge in order to elevate it off the surface of your table. For that I used two large plastic glasses and rested the edge of the container on the top of them. Fill your container with water about half way to 3/4's and then slowly pour just a little oil (you can always add more later). You might also want a wooden skewer
to stir the water and oil back up if the oil starts to group back together.

I didn't use my tripod for this, for several reasons.....I was using my 40mm macro lens which means I have to be closer than I would have been able to get using the tripod, and sometimes the oil drops don't want to stay still and you have to chase them a bit. Which brings me to my next suggestion...I used manual focus. The camera had a really hard time trying to focus on something, and usually wanted to focus on the paper below.


For my pattern under my container of water I used some scrapbook paper, but just about anything will work that has pattern or color. I liked a medium to smaller print because it showed up better in the bubbles trapped in the oil, like in the first image. This is just a sampling of what I used:



In both the 2nd, 5th and 6th shots I used the paper on the bottom left and you can see how different the results are. There really are so many variables to this, but you can see it's a simple set up.

I did want to see what I could get with my 50 mm [1.8] and 18-135 mm lens:

The first one is with the 50 mm at f 4.0 - but it has a minimum focusing distance of 18".
I didn't get it focused as sharp so I couldn't crop as close. That's where the tripod with this lens would
be helpful. And remember how I said it's better if there are no pressed markings on the bottom? You can see why in these photos at the very top of each
This was taken with the 18-135 mm lens at f 5.6 (80mm), and the same thing - the tripod would've been helpful. In all honesty I was too lazy to get it, lol! And I only experimented with these just last night on my
covered front porch and it was overcast . . . and I was tired. I'm confident I could've had better results if the lighting was better and I had kept trying. But I did want to show you that it is possible if you don't have a macro lens. Sharp focus would be really important if you wanted to crop in closer.


So here are some tips and suggestions:
  • I used vegetable oil
  • I used my 40 mm macro lens, but experiment with other lenses (and possibly extension tubes)
  • Make sure your glass container is clean and lint free
  • A windy day will make you crazy! It will blow the oil around making it hard to focus and you will get all kinds of things in your water.
  • Experiment with different size apertures. Since it's all on the same plane most of what it will affect is the background.
  • Although I have done it on a bright but overcast day, mid-morning sun seemed best.
  • You will want to use manual focus
  • I used the wooden skewer after a while to stir, to make different designs. I also used it to poke the middle of an oil drop to get some bubbles.
  • If you do have any bubbles, it does give you something to focus on a little easier.
  • Lukewarm or room temperature water works best.
 Okay, I hope I didn't forget anything! If you have any questions at all just ask and if you do try this and post it, I would love to see your results!

Happy snapping,

Love, Kim
XO



Sweet Shot Day  Live, Love, Travel 



And sharing at Communal Global

32 comments:

photo by ansku said...

WOW. And let me just say it one more time: WOW. Thank you so much for this tutorial, this is so awesome!! And the shots, they are just so beautiful!! How can simple bubbles be so gorgeous?

Manual focus will be tough... I suck at it. Well, this is the time to practice. Lighting - here in Finland we have still snow outside (OK, only some but it's still pretty cold) so I'm going to have to shoot this inside. So you think external speedlites will work, have you tried them?

Janet Bocciardi said...

It did indeed make for some beautiful pictures! Really WOW! and thank you so much for sharing it as a tutorial. I don't think my current camera could handle it, but when I do get my "real" camera I'm going to give it a try. Endless combinations...

Beauty in your words, too.

Cathy said...

I can't wait to try this. Thanks so much for the fun tutorial and the very fun pictures!

Molly said...

What a totally cool idea... once we have the weather for it I think I will experiment with this idea. Thank you for sharing your tips and tricks

Mollyxxx

augcott said...

Wow!
I ♥ this and I am so going to try this!!!
Thanks!

Patti said...

I am SO going to try this - thanks for sharing!

Gina @ Gigi Marie Photography said...

What you said is oh so true. I think we all have some lessons to learn from that. Don't we?!

Love the oil & water images. I really love that you showed your set up. I am sooooo going to give this a try.

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Danelle said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. I've tried it before but I like how yours turned out way more. I can't wait to try it again!

Shay said...

Thanks SO much for this tutorial! I have been wanting to try this! Love your method! I have tons of paper to try. Your pics are AWESOME!

Branson Merrill said...

Okay, I have seen this done a lot, and I am not just being kind when I say yours are my favorite EVER! And wow when you add the message behind them... such a great visual! Love it! I have missed you, girl! I need to get here more often now that I am off FB!

Nadege, said...

Your oil and water images look fantastic. Thank you for the tutorial.

Pieces of Sunshine said...

A great message and lesson. Worth pondering.
Your fourth photo reminds me of a foot with little toes.

Barbara said...

I have been wanting to try this for so long thanks for reminding me of it. You really got some beautiful captures. Any of these would look so beautiful blown up and on a wall. TFS.

Nancy Claeys said...

I find it very fun to experiment with different photo projects. This turned out very well for you, Kim. Great tutorial!

Wendy said...

Wow..what awesome pictures. It's so funny that you posted these pictures this week. My neighbor did a science experiment with her daughter this weekend with oil, water and food coloring and as she was describing it to me, my mind was going a mile a minute thinking what a cool thing to photograph!
Thanks for sharing! I am going to be trying this when I have some free time!

Ross said...

These shots are fantastic. I've been wanting to take some shots like this for some time now and have recently been reading about how to take shots like these. Thanks for this great post!

Diane said...

Awesome shots and great tutorial. Thank you for sharing. I'm going to try this myself. Hopefully I have great results like you.

homeschoolceo said...

What a beautiful lesson and reminder!

I have been wanting to try this since I read the same book. It's been on my list but I just haven't gotten to it. I am so glad you shared this and your set up. I'll have to give it a whirl. Your photos are gorgeous!!

Emily said...

What amazing shots and great tips! Thank you for sharing!

Mira Crisp said...

oh, wow! I would never thought of mixing water and oil to get such nice abstract photos. Great job!

Lisa said...

I enjoyed your photos today, and thought your analogy was fabulous. Isn't it amazing how natural elements can sometimes speak to us in the most profound ways?

Rosie@leavesnbloom said...

I've been waiting all week for this post :) and it has been inspiring especially what you gleaned from Beth. How amazing those photos are and I honestly am not just saying that I mean it! - they are terrific and my favourite is no2. It's so easy to do - plus I have loads of scrapbook paper. One day soon I will have to do this.

Jaymi said...

thanks so much for this tutorial! I've always wanted to try this! This was perfect for Tips & Pics, I'll have to try to get a post together about this and link to your tutorial!

Tamar SB said...

Um hello!! So cool, Kim!! Wow!

Ellie said...

Oh these are wonderful- such cool shots. Thanks for sharing.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Calling by as another thisorthat participant, what a fabulous post which I will be back to study in more detail.

Lei said...

Beautiful beyond words! It's kinda like magic! ^^, i wanna try this!

Deanna said...

Well, all I can say is these are absolutely fantastic. The written post mixes (ha, little play on words) beautifully with your photos. I will definitely try this technique, looks like so much fun. And fyi, I have no idea where the house you have never seen is...I was with my sister-in-law the day I snapped that one.

deb duty said...

These are so fun and such pretty colors!

...melody... said...

Oh my goodness! These are terrific! :) The first one just blew my mind. Thanks for all the great tips. Can't wait to try this one day.

Pride In Photos said...

You are so creative. Goodness.!

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