Tech Macro Photography, Droplets on a TV Screen


Craig Sillitoe has been grilled before. His first grilling, Photographing the Shrine of Remembrance contains a short profile. You can vote to grill more of his images at About Photogrill.

PHOTOGRILL: Why did you take this photo?

PHOTOGRAPHER: Actually I was just sitting in front of the television one evening watching a movie with a glass of lemonade. When I got up to get the remote control I tripped and spilled lemonade on the TV screen. Then I saw it, the squared regimented lines of pixels on the screen were transformed into vibrant moving colours. I was transfixed with the imagery and within half an hour I had the TV lying on it’s back and was spraying water over it. I’d forgotten about the movie.

PHOTOGRILL: How did you take the photo?

PHOTOGRAPHER: I took a whole series of pictures, I’d never seen this before and just kept experimenting, trying different images on the screen, different enlargement levels etc. It seemed to look best when the droplets would bead up, so I needed something on the screen to make it bead more. I had been taking some surfing photos the week before and I was using Rain-X (a product that I bought at an auto store). It makes the water bead up and slide off the glass (some photographers rub half a potato on their waterproof camera housing’s lens port, but I wasn’t going to rub a potato on my TV screen). So now I had Rain-X all over my TV screen.

PHOTOGRILL: What did your set-up look like?

PHOTOGRAPHER: The TV screen was propped up just slightly at the top, almost flat. I had a tripod leaning over it which was anchored so it wouldn’t fall on the TV. On the tripod was an Olympus OM-2n with a 100mm lens and a set of Macro Bellows. It was quite a sight, I had a spray bottle in one hand, and a cable release in the other, and the room lights were out to prevent stray light from dulling the colours. Using a bellows helped because the whole thing is on a rail, so you focus by rolling the whole set-up in and out. Getting the droplets sharp along with enough sharpness in the pixels meant a very small aperture. About f16 on the lens, it’s actually higher than that in reality because the bellows increases the f-stop. The fix to that was to use the camera’s internal metering which takes the belows extension into account. With digital, just shoot some test frames. Exposure was about 8 seconds at 100 ISO with the lens on f16.

This image was shot using an old low definition TV with large pixels. I wonder how it would look now with an HDTV? Hmmm…

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2 Responses to “Tech Macro Photography, Droplets on a TV Screen”

  1. 02809 Photography says:

    @photogrill out of the box love the info and the shot is amazing
    via twitter

  2. narelle sillitoe says:

    I remember this shot being shown to me by Craig when I first met him and thought it was the most amazing shot and told everyone about it.

    Years on and it is still one of the most awesome shots inspired by a simple accident of spilling lemonade on a t.v. !!

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