Photograph Otherworldly Environments Using a Fish Tank, Salt Water, and Dyes

If you want to capture photographs or videos of otherworldly environments without using any computer generated imagery, one way is to create miniature worlds in your garage using a fish tank and salt water (a technique that has been used in numerous Hollywood movies). The video above is a tutorial on this trick by filmmaker and visual effects guru Joey Shanks.

The basic idea is to fill up a large fish tank with both heavy salt water and lighter fresh water… without having them mix. You can do this with the help of a large trash bag; simply pour in the salt water, place the bag on the surface, pour on the fresh water, and slowly remove the bag.

What you’ll have is a tank with water clearly divided in the middle. Drip various dyes into this water for extremely cool effects.

Shanks is uploading one of these visual effects tutorials once a week to his YouTube channel. Although they’re geared toward filmmaking, some of them can be applied to still photography as well (here’s one on creating “warp speed” with steel wool).