Refraction patterns made by bending light through glass objects can produce stunning photography effects without any photo editing required. Here’s a really simple way to achieve the effect at home.
Sometimes photography can be nothing short of magical. In this tutorial we’re going to perform a wonderful trick that’ll be sure to impress your friends! We’re going to use the refraction properties of the glass and water to distort the pattern on the coloured paper background and create a fascinating optical illusion.
It’s possible to take interesting and creative photos using this simple technique. In our example, the two colour stripes in our backdrop have switched sides the optical effect of looking through water.
The technique is relatively easy to get to grips with. Fill a glass container with water and look though it, and you’ll instantly see the distorting effects of refraction. So grab a glass and let’s get started…
Bending light step-by-step
01 Make a background
For this project you’ll need to make a simple background. We’ve used pieces of coloured paper, but patterns can work, such as a black-and-white chequerboard. An easy way of producing these patterns is to make them yourself in Photoshop and then print them.
02 Technical details
You’ll need a decent amount of depth of field, so use a small aperture such as f/16 or f/22. Use Manual mode, and a shutter speed of 1/100 sec. For an even light, use two flashguns set to Manual. A setting of 1/16th power on both controls the overall exposure nicely…
03 Light to refract
To fire both flashguns simultaneously, one is connected to the camera’s hotshoe via a TTL flash sync cable, and the other set to Slave mode. Once the exposure and lighting are sorted out, line up the shot so the distorted light lines up with the centre of the glass.
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