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Home -> Photography Techniques: Creative and Artistic -> Creating Glycerin Drop Reflection Photos with Focus Stacking


Creating Glycerin Drop Reflection Photos with Focus Stacking

by Yuval Vaknin
All text & photos: © 2013 Yuval Vaknin. All rights reserved.

Glycerin Drop Reflection Photos with Focus Stacking: Dew drop on red flower petal by Yuval Vaknin.

Floating Petal: Canon 7D, Canon 100L-Macro made from 19 exposures

Creativity is all about having fun and showing your own personal vision with the photo subjects you choose.  You don’t even have to leave home to use this liquid glycerin drop photo reflection technique.  Just set up your own home studio and follow these 5 easy steps to making some eye-catching macro images.


Focus stacking is a technique that can be used to keep every detail of a subject reflected in a drop of glycerin in focus from front to back by taking multiple images and later merging them with an image editing program.


Equipment Needed:
Your imagination – photo subjects
DSLR Camera

Macro Lens

Focusing Rail
Remote Shutter Release
Liquid Glycerin
Eye dropper


Glycerin Drop Reflection Photos with Focus Stacking: Drop on end of syringe with red heart reflaection by Yuval Vaknin.

Love Injection: Canon 7D, Canon 100L-Macro made from 10 exposures


Step 1:  Find Interesting Subjects


Put on your thinking cap and use your imagination. On what can you place the glycerin drop or drops and what can you use as a background or subject to create the reflection inside the drop?  See if you can make a visual story or come up with a theme so the viewer will enjoy your final result.


Glycerin Drop Reflection Photos with Focus Stacking: Reflection of clock in drop on end of clock hand by Yuval Vaknin.

Time Keeps Ticking, Ticking...: Canon 7D, Canon 100L-Macro made from 12 exposures


Step 2:  Scene Arrangement & Setting up the Equipment


The scene must be void of any surrounding objects that are not intended to be reflected inside the drop, such as furniture, lamps, windows, etc.  You may want to make a free-standing, 3-sided box to block out these sundry objects.  Just be sure it is not reflected within the drop.


Set up your tripod. Attach the focusing rail to the tripod and attach your camera to the focusing rail.

Place the object on whatever you want and position it as needed.  Now place the object used for the reflection beside the main object and be sure it also has a clean background.  You may need to do a slight repositioning of the object used for reflection once the drop is placed on your main object.


Tip: Have your tripod and camera set in position as best you can before you place the drop of glycerin on the main object.


Glycerin Drop Reflection Photos with Focus Stacking: Flag of Israel reflected in dew drop on end of green leaf by Yuval Vaknin.

Flag of Israel: Canon 7D, Canon 100L-Macro made from 29 exposures


Carefully place the drop/s of glycerin on the tip of the main object using an eye dropper.  If it falls down, just keep trying again and again.


Note: I’m using liquid glycerin because it's more stable and makes nice, rounded drops.


Now you can readjust the position of the reflected object so it’s exactly where you want it inside the drop of glycerin.


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Step 3:  The Process


You’re going to take multiple macro images by moving the focusing rail forwards or backwards in minute increments, while at the same time keeping the focus the same – only the focus point will change as you go deeper and deeper into the reflection. Typically your aperture will be set within a range of f/8 to f/16.  Use your shutter speed to determine the correct exposure.


You must start from the first forward focus point on the object in the reflection and work your way back until you've finished on the last focus point - usually between 10-30 photos will be made.  Be sure you take the photos in order.  This will insure that every possible part of the reflected object is in focus! (You can also do this in reverse: backwards to forwards).


Glycerin Drop Reflection Photos with Focus Stacking: Reflection of snowman in dew drop on end of twig by Yuval Vaknin.

Snow Globe: Canon 7D, Canon 100L-Macro made from 27 exposures



Try carefully not to jump too fast/deep or you will lose some focus details in some areas – you may be only moving the focusing rail 1/16th of an inch. 


Be sure not to touch or change the focus with the focus ring on your lens.  If you do so the objects perspective will change.


Don't use "special" lights or your will have light spots reflecting in the image.  Instead, use long exposures – slow shutter speeds.


Glycerin Drop Reflection Photos with Focus Stacking: Reflection of colors in drop on end of blue colored pencil by Yuval Vaknin.

A Drop of Color: Canon 7D, Canon 100L-Macro made from 25 exposures


Step 4:  Edit Your Photos


After you have finished making the necessary number of images, use Photoshop’s Photomerge to blend all of your photos together (check the internet for other Focus-Stacking software programs).  As with many photos, your may need to make some minor adjustment with the color levels or remove spots, etc. in order to get a nice clean final product.


Glycerin Drop Reflection Photos with Focus Stacking: Reflection of fish in fish bowl inside drop on end of plant leaf by Yuval Vaknin.

Living in a Fish Bowl: Canon 7D, Canon 100L-Macro made from 22 exposures


Step 5:  Think about your next unique macro dew drop reflection project :)


Portrait of Yuval Vaknin.

Yuval Vaknin is a photographer in Israel who has a passion for macro photography and using his creative imagination.

Click here visit Yuval on Facebook.

All text & photos: © 2013 Yuval Vaknin. All rights reserved.



If you enjoy being creative or making macro images, here are other articles that may inspire you:
The Soul of Things: Imaginative Photography

How to Get "Tack Sharp" Photo Images--The Use of Focus Stacking
Close-up Photography: Magnification

Macro Photography: Beyond Flowers and Little Critters



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