Tiny worlds in drops of water
Spring is finally here and before you know it those muggy summer days will be upon us. While most of us prefer to stay inside next to the air conditioner, photographer Steve Wall, known on Flickr as Steve took it, grabs his camera and heads straight out the door.
“The more humid, the better,” he tells The Weekly Flickr in this week’s episode. “Because I know there’s something incredible outside to be captured.”
Steve is particularly interested in macro photography, a type of extreme close-up photography, usually of very small subjects. He describes it as venturing into a whole new world.
His obsession for water drops began completely by accident. He bought a new camera, but the lens he wanted was on order. “I couldn’t just stand there and look at my camera,” he says. “So I purchased an inexpensive Nikkor 60mm macro lens.”
A few days later he went outside after a rainstorm to capture a few interesting drops on pine needles. It was only when he looked at those shots on his computer that he noticed the pine needles were refracted inside the water, as seen in his photo Tripple Dripper.
“I was amazed,” Steve says. “The the first thing I wanted to know was ‘How did that happen?’ and the second thing I wanted to know was ‘What else could I put in there?’. Since then I’ve been on a quest to take better and better macro photos.”
Steve was fascinated by the physics of water drops and their ability to refract images. “It’s amazing you can have such detail in such a small size,” he says. “The idea that water is cohesive and actually forms a sphere and that sphere is a lens… the same kind of lens on the old time cameras that refracts an image upside down and backwards. It’s mesmerizing.”
The water drop photos in Steve’s photostream are the result of an evolutionary process. He actually created a self-described ‘water drop photo factory’ in his own backyard.
“I’ve planted my garden with various kinds of good plants for blooms nearby, good plants for retaining water drops,” Steve admits. “And I’ve learned you don’t just look at the water drops from one angle; you have to move up and down and back and forth to try to get the perfect angle of the refraction inside. And this of course frequently means crawling around on my hands and knees in the wet!”
One of his favorites is called Drops of Purple Petals, which he took on his hands and knees using a Coke can as a tripod to get the perfect angle. He likes this one in particular because you can actually see tiny water drops on the petals of the flower refracted inside the larger droplets.
Steve is often asked if the images inside the water drops are real or edited in with Photoshop. People are so convinced of the latter that they’ve even invited him to join Flickr groups specifically for photoshopped images. Steve finds the assumptions amusing and enjoys their reactions when they learn the truth.
“My favorite thing is when those who thought my pictures were photoshopped take it on as a challenge for themselves to capture water drop photos,” he says, “They often come back and say, ‘Wow, you were right!’”
Steve plans to continue his love for finding refractions in dew drops because he’s still impressed by the color, composition and details of every picture.
“It’s just amazingly beautiful,” Steve says. “The idea that you peer inside the water drop, you can see hidden worlds of mystery. It just lets your imagination run wild.”
Visit Steve’s photostream for more of his inspiring macro and nature photography.