Home photography ideas: Shoot color-foil abstract painterly images!

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Feeling in need of photographic inspiration while you're stuck indoors? Well, look no further than your kitchen cupboards! 

You’ll be surprised at how creative you can be with a few household items, and for this project we’re going to produce colorful, abstract images using only tinfoil and some food coloring. It’s a simple setup – all you need is a table and some natural light from a nearby window to create your own tabletop studio, and a macro lens as you’ll need to focus close to the foil. 

The effect is achieved by placing some glasses of colored water next to or on a sheet of foil and photographing the reflections – the resulting shapes and textures create images with a lovely painterly feel. As with everything, though, you’ll need to have patience and experiment to get the best results!

The tricky part is capturing a good composition, so adjust the foil and experiment with the position of the glasses of colored water until you get the desired effect. Using a macro lens is essential as the closer you get to the foil, the better results you’ll capture. All that’s required in post-production is a simple saturation boost, and a negative Clarity setting in Adobe Camera Raw to blur any sharp detail.

01 Position the foil

Lay out a sheet of foil on a table next to a window. A few creases in the foil will give the desired effect, so you don’t need to scrunch it up – just create gentle ripples.

02 Water colors

Add food coloring to glasses of water, and place these on or next to the foil to create colorful reflections. One or two colors work best – any more will look too busy.

03 shoot handheld

Read more: 

The best macro lenses in 2020: get closer to your subjects than ever before!
Home photography ideas: Master focus bracketing & focus stacking macro modes
Home photography ideas: Shoot abstract photos with household objects

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Hollie Latham

Hollie Latham-Hucker is a former Technique Editor of PhotoPlus magazine. With a degree in Design Photography from the University of Plymouth, she is currently working as the Technique Editor of Amateur Photographer.