These Portraits Were Shot with a Water Drop as a Lens

Dutch photographer Robin de Puy recently shot a series of beautiful portraits with unusual camera “equipment.” Instead of using a typical lens made of metal (or plastic) and glass, she shot the photos using a single drop of water as her lens.

Portrait Academy reports that the high-tech camera system was developed over several weeks.

Here’s a rough overview of how it works: a drop of water is placed on a glass plate covered with Teflon, which keeps the drop round instead of allowing it to spread across the plate. An electric current is then applied to the plate to change the shape of the water drop — by changing the amount of current, you can focus an image through the drop.

Due to evaporation, the water drop lens needed to be cleaned and replaced with a new drop every 15 minutes or so.

A mirror was used to bend light coming into the camera through the water drop and onto the sensor about 12mm (~0.47in) below. De Puy shot her photos with about a 1/3s shutter speed in color using an industrial 18-megapixel camera and then converted the images to black-and-white during post-processing.

(1) The Teflon coated glass plate with the water drop, (2) the 18-megapixel industrial camera, (3) the 45-degree mirror, (4) a plastic tube that keeps extra light out.

Here are some of the portraits she made using the water drop lens:

The project, which was done in partnership with the water company Spa, took half a year to complete.

Here are a couple of videos by Spa that show the project and a behind-the-scenes technical look. The narration and captions are both in Dutch, but you’ll get much of the gist:

Image credits: Photographs by Robin de Puy