How to shoot “Caustics”


Definition: Luminous curve of light often seen in a glass or cup of liquid either near the surface of the liquid, reflected onto the side of the container or projected onto a surface. * Formed by the intersection of rays of light (i.e. it is the locus of such intersections) which cross each other due to spherical aberration: rays near the centre converge less strongly than rays near the edge of the lens. * Occurs in reflection as well as refraction of light.

This tutorial has been inspired by the works of Alan Jaras. See here:

Camera with a removable lens
Any piece of glass

A “light modifier” (anything that allows light to pass from a small opening)
Adhesive (tape, etc.)
Light source (torch, led, etc.)

01_ Remove the lens from the camera body. Make sure to allow shutter release without lens in the camera setting. Set the camera to manual mode.

02_ Attach the “light modifier” in the lens mount. In this case the light modifier is a Pringles can with a pin hole. I used a Bostik blu-tack removable adhesive.

03_ Prepare the glass and the light source. In this case the glass is a broken stirring rod and the light source is a torch.

04_ Turn on the torch and shut the lights off.

05_ Put the glass in front of the camera in the hole of the light modifier. Then point the camera to the torch then you should see some wonderful refractions form in the viewfinder. If not then adjust the camera settings.

06_ Play with the place of the camera, glass and the torch and capture some otherworldly images.


Note: This is the way I shoot caustics. I am very much open to know how you shoot your caustics. Plus the light modifier can be of different size and shape. I have a square, a triangle and a rectangular light modifier.

Disqus for Gerome Soriano