Circles full of circles

Updated: May 24, 2018

I've always wanted to create an abstract macro shot of something fun refracted inside tiny water beads. Recently, I took it upon myself to learn this technique and pass it on. It's easy and fun!


You will need a clean sheet of glass about the size of a standard sheet of paper. A bottle of Rain•x, a clean cloth or paper towel, and a spray bottle of filtered water. Naturally, you will need to select your subject to be reflected in every water drop: I suggest something colourful like a flower (cliché!) or Smarties or buttons or a pattern of lines of dots... just be creative!


First: wet your cloth with a bit or Rain•x and rub this on your sheet of glass. It will be slightly matte. Wait until it dries and then buff it so the glass is clear.

Now, you'll need to place your subject to be photographed about 10 in. below the surface of your sheet of glass. I supported mine by resting it on the top of a large glass vase which contained my dish of Smarties. The fact that my support was made of glass allowed for lots of light to filter through and up my subjects, but you can choose any other way to hold up the glass like 2 wooden blocks for example.


Take your spray bottle and spray the top surface of your sheet of glass when it's in position over your subject. The longer you spray, the larger your water drops will grow. Look closely and you'll see every drop contains a tiny image of your subject!

I used Panasonic Lumix GH4 with an Olympus 60mm macro lens f10, ISO 1200, 1/100 sec. hand-held since I shot my subject outdoors.


If you find your subject in not 100% sharp inside every drop, I suggest shooting one shot for the water drops on the surface of the glass so that the edges of the drops are in perfect focus, and another for the subjects inside the drops. Then: focus stack the two and you will have a perfect macro abstract.


I will have a tutorial on focus stacking in my blog soon!

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