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!

Here's my flower vase (empty here) sitting on top of my little light box.

Here’s my flower vase (empty here) sitting on top of my little light box.

I sprinkled pieces of torn up colored paper on the lightbox to provide the color.

I sprinkled pieces of torn up colored paper on the lightbox to provide the color.

This is the image I like the most - the earthy colors and cool shapes of the oil bubbles in soap just really appeal to me.

This is the image I like the most – the earthy colors and cool shapes of the oil bubbles in soap just really appeal to me.

Same image as above except I cropped in closer.

Same image as above except I cropped in closer.

And this one is cropped even closer.  Click on it to see it at 100% size.

And this one is cropped even closer. Click on it to see it at 100% size.

I moved the pieces of paper underneath the glass vase and moved the oil around a little to give a different effect.

I moved the pieces of paper underneath the glass vase and moved the oil around a little to give a different effect.

This one I shot just a second after the one above, but I changed to more neutral lighting.

This one I shot just a second after the one above, but I changed to more neutral lighting.

About the same as the previous photo except that I'm shooting in a different spot in the bubbles.

About the same as the previous photo except that I’m shooting in a different spot in the bubbles.

Here's some nice big soap/oil bubbles for yet another effect.

Here’s some nice big soap/oil bubbles for yet another effect.

For this photo, I removed the pieces of torn up paper and put my tie-dye scarf on the light table for different colors.

For this photo, I removed the pieces of torn up paper and put my tie-dye scarf on the light table for different colors.

And one more on the tie-dye scarf.

And one more on the tie-dye scarf.

This was one I shot using available light only, so it was a long exposure. Even though on a tripod, the image isn't tack sharp, probably because the liquid was slightly moving and the longer exposure caught this.

This was one I shot using available light only, so it was a long exposure. Even though on a tripod, the image isn’t tack sharp, probably because the liquid was slightly moving and the longer exposure caught this.

This was taken almost immediately after the previous photo, but with enough supplemental light to shorten the exposure time and thus keep me a nice sharp image.

This was taken almost immediately after the previous photo, but with enough supplemental light to shorten the exposure time and thus keep me a nice sharp image.

And this ws taken just a couple of seconds later, but using a different white balance. I liked that warm tungsten glow in the earlier shots though!

And this ws taken just a couple of seconds later, but using a different white balance. I liked that warm tungsten glow in the earlier shots though!

I used a blue light with this (obviously)!  I don't like it as much, but it still  is neat in its own way.

I used a blue light with this (obviously)! I don’t like it as much, but it still is neat in its own way.