There are plenty of examples of water and oil photographs to be found online. The concept is simple enough – mix a little cooking oil in water, set above something colorful or contasty and shoot away! It’s a great way to get some totally fun abstract photographs.
I tried something a little different. Let me begin by saying that I’ve washed a fair number of dirty dishes in my life, and I’m aware of the interesting patterns created when oil, water and A LITTLE DISHWASHING SOAP are thrown in together.
So that’s my twist on the water and oil photos – add just a touch of dishwashing soap. This seems to give some distinct lines of demarcation to the shapes, almost like outlines, and it also creates thousands of tiny bubbles that seem to hold their shape quite nicely. I think that’s what contributes to some interesting textures as well. Plain old oil and water alone look, well… oily! Especially in the closeups, you can see some definite texture in some spots.
The biggest problem seemed to be finding a glass container that didn’t have writing, lines or patterns on the bottom! The most satisfactory container I found was actually a flower vase. It had a wide mouth, nothing on the bottom, and it was indented towards the top so it made it easy to get a nice grasp on it.
Because it was a high, wide vase, I tried lighting directly onto the vase from the sides, but that didn’t bring out the colors like I wanted. Tried bouncing the light off a reflector, but that didn’t strike my fancy either. So I put a few pieces of colored paper on top of a small lightbox and that did the trick! I also used a tie dyed scarf over the lightbox for some shots too.
I’m including a couple of closeup shots including a 100% crop to show the cool bubble detailing that I got with this technique. Fun rating: 10 out of 10!