Do you ever get in a photography rut? While there are many ways to break out of one, I find photographing objects around the house particularly helpful. It’s easy to do, and you can get fun results. We’ve shown you how to use plastic wrap and even a crystal ball in your photography. Now it’s time for oil and water.
The Oil and Water Experiment
Many years back we had a challenge called Project 52. It has since been replaced with MCP Photo a Day. One of the themes was “something in your house.” As I walked around my house looking for the perfect object, I got an idea… Water. To make this idea more interested and to give it an abstract look, I grabbed some food coloring from the kitchen and baby oil from the bathroom. BINGO!
Do you see where this going?
I filled my sink with water … And then…
I added a few drops of food coloring into the water and splashed in a few drops of baby oil.
Once the sink was full, I took my camera, at the time a Canon 5D MKII with 100mm macro lens attached, and went to work.
I shot in manual mode with an aperture of 2.8 on this lens. My ISO was 800 as the bathroom was not super well lit. Since there wasn’t a lot of contrast, I used manual focusing for sharp focus directly on the oil spots I wanted to emphasize. I did not use flash, though I am sure that would have made things even more interesting. Since this water was still, versus trying to capture a moving droplet, flash wasn’t essential.
You can see the lights from my bathroom reflect in the oil droplets. To get new looks, I would also stir the oil. To mix things up even more, I’d mix in other colors of food coloring. Warning: a little goes a long way. Here are some of the abstract photos I took.
This one reminds me of lemons and limes, or maybe Sprite, 7-Up or Sierra Mist:
This one reminds me of one of my favorite TV shows, Dexter… Could be LOVE red or blood red… Oh and does anyone see what appears to be a “pig face” smiling at me on the bottom right large droplet? Hmmm…
And this next one, it’s all about color. Look how rich and almost metallic this one appears:
This one reminds me of the water color of the ocean in the Caribbean. Anyone else ready for a vacation?
Want some liquid gold? I just love this color of yellow. By the way, the non circular shape is hard to get. You have to mess with the oil droplet and quickly snap the shot. If you are not fast, it goes back into a circular shape before you take the picture. I assume a science major could explain this better.
If you lack the patience of have a favorite image that you wish were a different color, there is an easy fix in Photoshop and Elements. Just use the Color Changer action in Inspire OR use Hue/Saturation and play around with various hues.
I hope you enjoyed the pictures of my science experiment/cooking lesson/photography tutorial. If you are looking to “mix up” your photography, make sure to think outside the box and join us for our Photo a Day challenges.
I originally wrote a similar post for Pioneer Woman, many years ago. Since she no longer has an active photography area on her site, I wanted to make sure you had access to this post.
If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you may know that I was just traveling and photographing wildlife and nature in Alaska. Wildlife photography is a passion of mine (though it’s definitely just a hobby). I am not seasoned in photographing birds or animals, but I hope to grow in that arena. When I come back from a trip with thousands of photos, it can be daunting. I imagine weddings would be much the same way. If you want to edit faster, try this simple process.
My 15 seconds per image Lightroom workflow:
I cull my way through 1000s of nature, wildlife and personal snapshot photos from my trip, using my “15 second per image editing technique.” Using Lightroom with my cap locks pressed, I hit P (for Pick) or X (for Exclude). The cap locks advances you to the next photo once P or X are pressed. If I know it is one I want to keep, I edit quickly using the Enlighten Lightroom presets before hitting the P key. Once I have the look I want, if there are other similar images, I save the combination temporarily as a “save a fav” preset within the set. Then I apply it (or even just sync) with all similar images.
While I may spend 20-30 seconds on a few photos, the average time is about 15 seconds since I average in rejects and photos I synced (as those then usually just need a possible crop).
** for most vacation photos, I don’t enter Photoshop. But for portraits, if I want to, I will star those with a number too (so maybe 3 stars or 5 stars = portrait). Then once I am done in Lightroom, I can export and edit the starred images with Photoshop actions or hand retouching as needed.
Help, in exchange for the tip?
Remember how I mentioned I am not seasoned at wildlife photography??? Well, I need your help. I loved photographing bald eagles and really want to print one for my home. But technically speaking – and visually – I am having a hard time deciding on the strongest image. Which of these do you feel is the strongest? Feel free to add any thoughts or helpful CC for me in the comments too. Thank you!
** All images below were edited with Enlighten Lightroom presets. Only the resize and copyright were added using batch processing.
All eagles in flight were taken with the Canon 5D MKIII and Canon 70-200 2.8 IS II with a 1.4x extender. Settings: ISO 800, Aperture 4.0, Speed between 1/1000 and 1/1600
All bald eagles in the tree and nest were taken with the Canon 5D MKIII and Tamron 150-600mm at the full 600mm. Settings: ISO 1000, Aperture 6.3, Speed between 1/500 and 1/1000
Overwhelmed yet? Again, helpful critique is welcome. I did not have a flash, though with a better beamer that may have helped, and I know on a few the wings are clipped, so there’s that too. But I was happy overall with these. And I think practicing at home with the birds in my backyard actually helped me a bit. So tell me, what is your favorite of the ones above? Thanks again.
One danger when you are new to photography is over-editing. It’s easy to get super excited when post-processing.
Opacity is certainly your friend. When using actions in Photoshop or Elements, make sure to adjust the opacity of each layer if needed. But what if you are doing manual edits like the patch tool or cloning? If you work on duplicate layers you can adjust the opacity of the entire layer. Another great way to control things is to “fade” them. Go under EDIT – FADE (and look for what you did as your last step). Take full control of your editing.
Before and After Step-by-Step Edit: A Crop and a Few Quick Edits for a Great Portrait
The MCP Show and Tell Site is a place for you to share your images edited with MCP products (our Photoshop actions, Lightroom presets, textures and more). We’ve always shared before and after Blueprints on our main blog, but now, we will sometimes share some favorites from Show and Tell to give these photographers even more exposure. If you haven’t checked out Show and Tell yet, what are you waiting for? You’ll learn how other photographers are using our products and see what they can do for your work. And once you are ready, you can show off your own editing skills using MCP goodies. You might even make new friends or gain a customer…. since you get to add your website address right on the page. Bonus!
Here is a sample on how to choose a crop and edit with MCP Photoshop Actions to make your image stand out.
Today’s Featured Image:
By: Biju Photography
MCP sets used: Newborn Necessities Photoshop Actions
- Crops make a big difference. I love how this is cropped closer in the after image. Then it was edited with Newborn Necessities actions - Hush Jaundice @42% + Brightened and sharpened the eyes using Eyes Wide Open action + added 18% It’s a Girl action.
To learn more about MCP Photo A Day.
For July, our themes are inspired by Reality TV Shows. You can really stretch your imagination with these - take them literally, represent the show, or do a completely unique spin on the words. Use your creativity – anything goes. We cannot wait to see how you interpret these! Use your dSLR, iPhone, P&S or even a pinhole. If it can take a photo, it’s fair game.
It’s never too late to join in. And if you miss a day or two, or get behind, that’s fine as well. Just participate when you can. Here are the fun themes for JULY. You are welcome to pin this and post it directly to Facebook, Google+ and Instagram too!
How to participate:
- Take a photo with any camera you want (SLR, phone, P&S, etc). Post the image to your Instagram, Facebook, Google Plus or best yet – all of them. Hashtag it #mcpphotoaday. If possible list the day, date and/or theme.
- Bonus fun – You can also follow us and tag @mcpactions on Instagram. If on Facebook – tag the MCP Business Facebook Page and if on Google+ – tag the MCP G+ Page.
- If you edited the photo with MCP products such as our Photoshop actions, Lightroom presets and textures, you can also hashtag it #mcpactions. For more exposure, you may post MCP edited images to our Facebook Group and state what products were used.
- Spread the word. Tell others to visit this shortened URL to join us: http://bit.ly/mcp-photoaday
- Make sure you FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM and OUR PERSONAL FACEBOOK as we will try and feature photos daily.
That’s it – super easy. We hope you participate. Make sure to check out MCP on Instagram. We will feature participants’ images – so visit to get inspired and maybe to see your image.
Comment below and let us know if you will be joining us!