Oil and water macro shoot with an iPhone 15

This is a great setup anytime. When you are stuck inside on a rainy day and are looking for something to do on the creative side with your photography. Playing with water is one of my favorite things to do. Breaking out the water droplet kit can be a little too time consuming and cumbersome. Oil and water set is a piece of cake. Here’s what I did for a macro shoot with an iPhone 15.

Note: I am a Platypod Pro and get to use all the tools at no charge.

The black rims around the oil are a result of there being a black background on the set. One more place with which to experiment.

The set

I’ve found this set to be the best in my opinion. Any way that you have a glass container with water will work. Start with a sheet of glass. Take a bit of painters tape and cover the edges for protection from cuts. This also aids to visually define the edge to keep from bumping the glass as well. Suspend the glass with your choice of material. You can use boxes of the same size, books, or in this case, a couple of plastic milk cartons.

Also, having the sheet of glass raised allows you to add color in various ways underneath. With a large glass baking dish you could leave out the sheet of glass but I’ve found it helpful in protecting the lights and tablet underneath. And, trust me, you’ll want to do that with the oily liquid floating around. Drips and spills can be a mess to clean up.

Oil and water using a black background lit by LED light panels dialed in to red at full saturation.


For this macro shoot I used the iPhone 15 Pro in Macro Mode. The new Platypod Grip cradled the camera/phone. A single knob allowed for lots of adjustment. Three Platypod Handles supported the Grip to get a straight down shot over the water and oil mixture. Then, a Platypod eXtreme was clamped to the table. Two Handles were also mounted to get the height. A single Handle could be used if the glass shelf was lower. Next, a Benro ball head was paired with another Handle. At the top of the Handle, I placed The Grip. And, of course, the Grip held the iPhone 15 Pro.

Close up of the Platypod Grip mounted on top of a Handle

Black base background

For a rich color, I use a black base lit with LED panel lights. While it might be counterintuitive, using black for the base makes for deep vibrant base colors. You can dial in whatever color floats your boat with the LED panels. You can work with one light but having two will also allow more experimentation blending multiple colors. It is all about the experimentation and play!

Oil and water with LED lights tuned to full red saturation shining on a black background.

iPad or Tablet background

An extremely versatile way to color your set is to place a Tablet or iPad underneath your water container. Fill the container with water, then use cooking oil or other types of oil. The oil will bead up, taking on different shapes as it moves through the water. You can stir it or blow across the water to get an endless changing of the mixture.

Oil and water set with iPad below to provide the abstract background.
An abstract background playing on the iPad adds lots of color variation.


Once you have the oil, water and background in place, it’s time to experiment. Start with a little oil, then add more as you go. If you add too much to begin with, you’ll lose some of the ways in which the mixtures play off each other. Try different thicknesses of oil. Baby oil is very thin. Meanwhile, cooking oils have more viscosity but also have color. Try mixing oil and vinegar. Since they also don’t mix well, it could lead to some cool possibilities. Sometimes, a drop of dishwashing liquid can also change how all the liquids are mixing.

Most of all have fun and let me see what you come up with, or if you have some cool ways to build your oil and water macro set.

Yours in Creative Photography,



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