Recently, I joined the Facebook community of the photo magazine Frames, where I posted my image “Quantumania”, a rather idiosyncratic (not to say wacky) macro shot of oil in water.
The image didn’t get too much resonance there which didn’t surprise me because only photos that don’t stray too far from mainstream tastes make it on the Internet. However, the admin of the group (and editor-in-chief of the magazine) has now asked me to describe how this picture came to be. This was my answer:
Looking for new ideas for macro photos, I watched a tutorial on YouTube about pictures of oil in water . The guy put a small glass container on a glass table, filled it with water, and lit it from below. He then used a syringe to drip oil into the water. He then photographed the droplets with a macro lens. I wanted to try this out but had to make do with the tools I had in the house: tap water, a Manfrotto LED light, two stools, and an old glass cutting board covered with countless signs of use in the form of scratches. In doing so, I broke almost every rule in the tutorial: Use distilled water (because it’s supposedly the purest), arrange multiple light sources, put everything on a spotless glass surface, etc.
The supposed disadvantages of my tools gave the resulting images their charm – at least I feel this way. The poorly controllable light created strong contrasts, and the scratches in the glass created surreal-looking lines and shapes in the pictures. Post-processing (exclusively in Lightroom) was just a matter of correcting the crop and fine-tuning the contrasts.
YouTube tutorials are fine, but one should never make the mistake of confusing the working methods and techniques suggested there with rules that one must not break.
All in all, nine presentable images came out of this session. I called the series “Quantumania” because shortly before the session, I had seen the latest Ant Man-movie by the same name. The photographs reminded me of the movie’s imagery of what the protagonists saw when they shrank further and further while entering into what they called the Quantum Realm. Enjoy!