Translucent Setup

November 8, 2010

So, last week I posted a variety of backlit food photos. I also used this technique for the snake leaf photo (posted a couple of week’s back). As I stated, the original concept for these was found on the PPSOP blog that Christos introduced me to. I didn’t have all the equipment required to create these photographs and instead decide to create my own setup.

First step – Get a glass jug that has a raised lip. You probably have one of these in your kitchen.

Second step – You now need to get a light into the bowl. You may have some small but strong LED light that will sit underneath (purchase from a hardware store), or you can use a bendable lamp like I did. Mine was purchased from Ikea. Mine light lit one area quite brightly, I should have try to diffuse it. Work at it, come up with your own solution and let me know.

Third step – Get a standard drinking glass. Nothing too tall.

Fourth step – Get a fine selection of citrus fruits, these work perfectly, lemons, limes, oranges. Also, other items that will work well with backlighting, i.e. a leaf or as I did, some uncooked rice. All items were placed in the glass (no… not together). Okay.. no, not the leaf.

Fifth step – To get the bubbles, you need a fine bubbly clear drink such as Sprite or 7Up. I recommend a cold sprite, it tastes better when you drink it.

So, now you have all the items you require, slice your first citrus fruit and wedge it into the bottom of the glass. In the PPSOP blog you can see that they don’t do that. I did it for two reasons:

a) I don’t want it floating whilst I’m trying to take a photo

b) I don’t want bubbles to get stuck underneath the lime.

Once your lime is fitting nicely, set up your camera as shown in the photos below. You will require a macro lens! I have a Canon 100mm one. I love it! Check your focus and make sure you’re happy. My settings were F10, Iso100. Also, I use a remote trigger. These should be pretty cheap, I think mine was £20 or less. They make a world of difference and work better than a 2 second shutter delay. If you don’t use this, you will most likely get a lot of blur, and if you use the 2 second delay, you may miss the perfect bubble (remember, the bubbles hit the lime when you pour in that sprite so timing is eveything. Set your camera so that it can shoot multiple photos and get ready.

Turn on the backlight (led snake light or whatever you’re using), if you haven’t done so already. If you had to move the bowl for this, refocus. When you’re ready, pour in the sprite and click away. You don’t need too much sprite. 1 cm or less should be fine, enough to cover the lime and get some bubbles on it. If you have managed to get a bubble trapped underneath it. Switch off the light (or your camera) and then remove the glass and shake it around a bit. Put it back, back light again, adjust and refocus. If that doesn’t work, drink the sprite and start again. 🙂

Good luck and have fun, it’s a great Sunday project. If you don’t have an SLR with a macro lens, it doesn’t matter, I’m sure you can still use the macro mode on a decent point and shoot to get some cool photos.

As always, if you use this technique, please link back to this post. Best of luck.











































  1. Looks like a fun experiment for a rainy day 😉

    Thanks for sharing your setup…perhaps you could post this to Digital Photography School

  2. Thanks for posting this Nigel. I will definitely be trying this out.

  3. Thanks for sharing this… I will try it in the week end,,

    • Hope you get some good results.

  4. Thanks for sharing Nigel. I look forward to try it this week.

  5. Thank you for the tip. I was wondering how you did it 🙂

  6. Interesting read…I will have to try it on my sliced kiwi fruits next time!! 🙂

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