Macro Photography Trick: Create ‘Rainbow Flares’ with a CD


The glorious colors of summer are fading away, and the windy weather makes outdoor macro photography difficult. In other words, it’s the perfect time to take photography inside and stage creative photos with things around the house.

Anything could be an ingredient in your creative recipe. These ingredients can be simple things, such as in this example: A CD, a Milkweed seed and some water, put together on a reflective piece of glass, made for the images in this article.

A third-hand soldering station holds everything together; the perfect work station for indoor macro projects. I place the seed on the glass plate and mist it with a syringe (spray bottles tend to get the seed too wet too quickly.) For even more surface tension you can mix glycerin in with the water.

Next, I hold the CD in the background and preview the colors in the viewfinder with a flashlight. The camera is triggered via an intervalometer as I move the CD to create different reflections. A simple on-camera flash works fine for this; pulling the white bounce card out helps.

The difference that a CD makes for the images is stunning, and every image will show different colors and gradients. The two photos below illustrate side-by-side how the image comes to life once all of the ingredients are in place.

For even more information and a better peek behind the scenes, you can watch the making of video here:

If you mount your camera on a tripod you can even combine the most vibrant parts of each image you take into one ultra-colorful image. Just Load them into a stack in Photoshop (“Files”→”Scripts”→”Load files into Stack…”) or your favorite image editor and merge them using Layer masks.

The result looks something like this:

I hope you enjoyed the creative input and the peek behind the scenes. Cheers!

About the author: Maximilian Simson is a London-based portrait and event photographer who also shoots fine art and macro photography. To see more of his work, visit his website. This article was also published here.

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