Make Photo Art With Water and Oatmeal

water drops
Photo Art

Unique photos are a great way to decorate your home. Here's how to make this photo art image titled "Oatmeal Drops." There's also a post showing how to make art using reflected light on a CD.


1. Place organic oatmeal in a small bowl and pour boiling water on it. There should be about one inch of airspace between the oatmeal and the top edge of the bowl.

2. Quickly cover the hot oatmeal with a very high-grade clear plastic surface such as Plexiglas. This actually helps the hot water 'cook' the oatmeal. In this example, the Plexiglas used was from a brochure display stand.

3. Initially, the steam will simply create a misty surface on the plastic. After a short time, the steam will turn into larger water drops. Gently, but quickly, turn the plastic over while the drops are still adhering to the surface of the plastic.

4. The drops should now be facing up. To create larger drops on the surface, tilt the plastic slightly to allow drops to touch and join together. Do not tilt the plastic so much that the drops run off the surface.

5. Place the plastic on an interesting surface. In this example, a metal stand was used.

6. For the photography in this example, a tripod was used with a 5 Megapixel Sony DSC-P10 configured with the following settings:

  • Flash: Off
  • Macro: On - For most cameras there is a button with a flower symbol that indicates macro mode for very close-up pictures
  • Focus: Center AF (Auto Focus) - if the camera has this feature, request that it focus only on what is precisely in the center of the viewfinder and ignore everything else, this should help exaggerate a narrow depth-of-field making the drops sharp and the background blurry
  • Metering: Spot - this lets the camera adjust the lighting on just the spot that is in the middle of the frame while ignoring other bright lights or dark spots that may be in the periphery of the frame
  • White Balance: Automatic
  • ISO: Automatic
  • Quality: Fine
  • Sharpness: High

7. For this image, Apple iPhoto software was used to crop the photo and then apply the following effects:

  • Sharpen: set to maximum
  • Sepia
  • Edge Blur: apply several times until the desired effect is achieved

8. For this example, the image was exported to 800 pixels wide by 755 pixels high. The original image was much higher resolution which is larger than necessary for uploading to the web.

9. Print your photo at a professional photo printing shop and frame as desired.

Now you can sit back and enjoy your oatmeal. ~ Gregory


Below is an image of Plexiglas covering the bowl of oatmeal as described in step #2 above.

water drops

Here is a closeup of water drops with very shallow depth of field.

water drops

P.S. This blog entry was originally posted under Questions and was later moved to How To, because at the time, there was a very nice entry under the How To heading from DIY-Maven on how to create a pillow slipcover without needle or thread and posting this would have bumped hers down the list.

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birdballet on Dec 08, 2006:

steamy shower doors work well too.

gregoryjohnson on Dec 04, 2006:

Organic oatmeal is what I use. I don't know if a non-organic version or another food would possibly discolor the water droplets.

shiny robot on Nov 30, 2006:

You specify organic oatmeal...would conventional oatmeal give different results?

What about Cream of Wheat? 

roadvermin on Nov 30, 2006:

Great idea, this looks beautiful.

-RV's Girl 

EmilyJayne on Nov 29, 2006:

This is a really cool effect.  Thanks for sharing!

DIY Maven on Nov 29, 2006:

Hey Greg! I love this effect. Lately, I've been exploring the capabilities of my digital camera. I think I'll give this a try next time I'm in the mood for oatmeal! Oh, and thanks for the space-time on the how-to page....although it wasn't necessary!! (I was taught to share ;) 

I also wanted to let you know that I deleted some of my comments from your post in an effort to free up some space for other faces. (See, I DO know how to share!) 

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