Oil, water, smoke and macro

As I’ve been writing a review of some photos I’ve taken for my photography course and many of them were taken on a Welshot academy evening, I thought I’d share my experience of the event.

Water droplet (white background)

The event was the Oil, smoke, water and macro – creative photography evening in Menai Bridge at the end of February. I had a new macro lens for my birthday earlier in the month and was excited to try it out. I’d seen pictures from earlier events and loved the images of the water droplets and smoke, and couldn’t wait to learn how to capture these myself.

After being welcomed to the event by Eifion, he explained that 4 different tables had been set up with different subjects for us to photograph. There was a group of about 12 of us and we soon split up into smaller groups around the tables and got started.

I first headed over to photograph the smoke drifting upwards from an incense stick, smelling lovely. There was a dark background behind the smoke so it would show up clearly, and a flash had been set up. One of the leaders, Chris explained everything to me and recommended some camera settings to use to start with. Once I had focussed on her hand in the path of the smoke (subsequently removed!), I was off, taking plenty of shots until I got a smoke formation I liked, and adjusting my camera settings to see what happened, liking a wider aperture, which produced a shallower depth of field and gave the smoke a crisper feel… crisp isn’t really the word I’m looking for, but the right word is refusing to come to me at the moment!

Smoke (black background)

Eifion pointed out that photos of smoke look great inverted, or coloured in different ways. I haven’t done any editing like this before so I had a go at inverting the colours of one of my images in Lightroom. I rather like it. I also tried converting it to black and white, but preferred the hints of blue and purple in this image.

Smoke (inverted colours)

Next I photographed the water droplet. A plastic bag with a pinhole in it was suspended above a bowl of water, producing a slow but steady fall of water droplets. Off camera flash was used to light the image and I manually adjusted the settings on my camera so that the water droplet would be sharp against a blurred background. Someone held the tip of a pen where the water droplet would land so I could focus on it. A coloured background was used for the image below, whereas a white background was used for the image at the top of the page. It took lots of shots to get some images with the water droplets in exactly the right place!

Water droplet (coloured background)

After this I photographed the oil and water, which was just lit using a lamp. I found focussing on the water surface and getting sharp images of the drops of oil difficult for some reason, but I got there in the end with some advice from Eifion. The coloured background in this shot is just some coloured cloths below the bowl of water, which was suspended between two chairs. A simple but effective set up!

Oil droplets

After a break for a delicious meal of chilli, rice and chips, and a chat, I just played around with some standard macro shots. This image of marbles is an example of the photos I took. I’ve used a shallow depth of field so the large marble on the left is in focus and the marbles at the front and back are blurred. I like the light reflecting off the glass.


The evening was great fun and I’m pleased with my images. At Welshot events, it’s great to have some dedicated time to practice using my camera, with lots of people around who can answer my many questions. They’re always so patient with me too! I’m a slow learner and often need to ask the same thing several times before it sinks in!

Although I’ve learned a lot in the last year, I still consider myself a beginner and I’ve always found everyone at the events very helpful. This time though, I was quite pleased to be able to help someone else myself. I’m definitely making progress 🙂

Thanks to Eifion, Chris and everyone else for the help and good company! I look forward to future events

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