Recipe for a Refraction

Message in a Bottle © Harold Davis

Message in a Bottle © Harold Davis


  • 1 DSLR (Nikon D800 or equivalent)
  • 1 Moderate telephoto lens (135mm f/2 Zeiss or equivalent)
  • 1 Extension tube (12mm)
  • 1 Tripod
  • 1 Remote release
  • 1 White bed sheet
  •  2 Vases partially filled with water
  • 1 White daisy
  • 1 Pedestal approximately 3″ X 12″ X 6″ (an old-style phone book will do)
  • Strong sunlight from the side


Drape the white bed sheet so it forms a seamless background on a table. Put the daisy in one of the vases. Place the vases one behind the other, with the daisy in the rear vase. Place the pedestal under the sheet to raise the front vase.

Mount the camera on the tripod, and attach the remote release to the tripod. Attach the extension tube to the camera and the moderate telephoto lens to the extension tube. Using manual exposure, with the ISO set to 100, stop the lens all the way down (to f/16 or f/22).

Wait for the light to beam directly on the rear vase. Set the shutter speed to complete the exposure equation in relation to the incoming light in terms of the shutter speed. Hold the depth-of-field preview button down and wiggle the camera into position to best focus on the refraction of the daisy in the front vase. Expose the image with the remote release. Convert to monochrome.

Hint: It is all in the seeing.

This entry was posted in Photography.

One Comment

  1. Harvey April 22, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

    As easy as baking a cake! Great seeing!

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