Abstract Photos of Oil Spills that Look Like Iridescent Eyes

Posted on September 19, 2016 by UNITED PHOTO PRESS MAGAZINE

Photographer and artist Fabian Oefner is known for his creative work with paint, oil, and even petrol. He’s a master of finding beauty in chemistry, and capturing that beauty through his camera lens. Oil Spill, his most recent project, is no exception.

The photographs you see here were created by filling a black basin with water and injecting small droplets of oil onto the surface with a syringe. “Upon contact with the water, the oil started to expand and form into magnificent structures,” he explains on his website. “Some of them seem to look like stars exploding, others look like a photograph of the iris.”



“What I like about the series is that it is quite a simple phenomenon,” says Oefner. “Yet strikingly magic and beautiful.” They’re also completely real, without any need for Photoshop to create the colors you see here.

Like much of Fabian’s work, this is science visualized through photography.

“The various colors result from the reflection and refraction of light, as it passes through the oil film and back into the camera lens,” explains Oefner. “Depending on how thick the oil film is, the colors change from blue, green to red, until finally they disappear again.”

Project Description

This series is part of Oefner`s exploration of Iridescence. For this experiment, Oefner poured water into a black reservoir. With the aid of a syringe, he then added small drops of oil onto the water surface. Upon contact with the water, the oil started to expand and form into magnificent structures. Some of them seem to look like stars exploding, others look like a photograph of the iris.

The various colors result from the reflection and refraction of light, as it passes through the oil film and back into the camera lens. Depending on how thick the oil film is, the colors change from blue, green to red, until finally they disappear again.

„What I like about the series is that it is quite a simple phenomenon, yet strikingly magic and beautiful. It came to my mind when I was sitting outside my studio on a rainy day and observed a thin film of petrol on a water puddle. So I got inside again and started to recreate the setup in a more controlled environment. Finally, after many different setups and hundreds of images, the exploration resulted in these ten photographs.“