Yesterday, I became bored after writing the umpteenth page of my thesis, so I took the decision of grabbing my camera and playing a little bit with it, just for fun. Since I read Light: Science and Magic I like to play with illumination, to fiddle with light configurations and practice a little bit under the control of my improvised studio. This week I have been working with a chemical compound known as triethanolamine, a colorless liquid much more dense and viscous than water, and I enjoyed the curls and lines that formed while it slowly mixed with water (as the refraction index of the mixture changes, just in case you needed that explanation). Thinking yesterday about that brought to my mind the pictures that I sometimes see of water, droplets and ink, and I decided to try my own version.
I stole a little bit of ink from my fountain pen (dear pen, if you’re reading this –I doubt it- I’m sorry, I won’t give you back that ink), I took the first photographically decent glass recipient I found around, and I started to play with what I had. My first attempt was disastrous, which is normal as I was doing exactly the opposite I should be doing. But after a little bit of “thinking process” I arrived to a satisfactory light configuration that, although it was not optimal, worked reasonably well. After that, it was all just dropping droplets of ink while the intervalometer carried out the responsibility of taking the pictures. After more than a hundred, this is the chosen one.
As a quick recipe for anybody wanting to do something like this, you need a brilliant and soft light just behind the glass, and all the rest of the room to be dark. The light must extend only to the border of the frame and not more, in order to get dark enough borders in the glassware. In my case it extended a little bit more than necessary but, without being optimal, it worked well. I used a wireless flash behind a white blanket as my main light, and a fast enough shutter speed so the residual ambient light of the room was not captured. The rest, as the book I mentioned before claims, is magic.
This picture is posted on my Flickr, 500px and Instagram accounts, in case you want to see it larger. Do you like the picture? Have you ever tried to do a similar picture using a different light arrangement? If you did, please comment and share with all of us your method for capturing ink droplets in water.