How it was made: Distant Galaxy

Have you ever wondered have to take a photo like this one by Carola Onkamo? Actually, it's not as hard as you might think. Learn the secrets behind the photo below and try it yourself, it will turn out different every time!


Canon 10D, Tamron 90mm, 1/3s, f/6.7, ISO 100, tripod.


Distant Galaxy by Carola Onkamo

I love playing with light, colors and shapes. I often use liquids when taking photos. Liquids are hard to control, so there is always a random element in the picture and it's hard to predict the final outcome. I can control the colors and shapes, but the final result is controlled by the liquids.

The photo is a single shot. The equipment used is a Canon EOS 10D with a Tamron 90 mm lens, a tripod and a light table lit from below. Spotlights are used to lighten the motif from the sides. The liquids are poured into a transparent glass bowl on top of the light table. I didn't use flash.

The contrast has been adjusted in Photoshop. I cloned away some dust spots using the clone stamp tool. I try to do as much in camera as possible to avoid any unncessary post-processing.

I want to create a feeling of harmony between color, shapes and light. The picture should appeal to the imagination of the viewer and inspire personal interpretations.

The picture was turned upside down in the post-processing, which I believe creates a stroger harmony and flow in the photo. However, viewers and print-buyers are welcome to turn it any way they want. Perhaps the viewer can see something I haven't even thought about. In abstract photography there is no right or wrong in respect to the interpretation of the picture. To me, this is one of the fundamental joys of abstract shots. Watch the picture actively but in a relaxed manner and give the photo plenty of time, it will grow on you.

If you want to create something similar to this, let your imagination free. Trial and error is the key. Different kinds of liquids with different temperature and density will give varying results. The colors should not contain pigments, because they will be too big in macro photography. I exclusively use food color, which doesn't contain any pigments and can easily be mixed with other colors.

More about Carola Onkamo


I'm captured by colors, shapes and light. My eye is often drawn to small details in my near surroundings. I always search for a special angle which creates harmony and makes a picture interesting. Photographing makes me feel good and I'm very happy when someone else enjoy my work. That kind of positive response gives me the inspiration to continue making new photos.

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