Liquid Emulsion Photography: Abstract Paint

Find out how to create striking abstract shots like this one in this step-by-step tutorial.

You’ll cover everything from Karl’s background choice to his shooting angle and lighting setup. You’ll also see him testing different products to see what mixes best with water and how to make these solutions work best. As he works, Karl explains how patience, practice and good lighting are key to making these shots successful.

This setup can be used to photograph multiple items — from paint splashes and flowers to champagne bottles!

In this class:

  • How to photograph paint splashes
  • Creative photography ideas
  • Lighting setups for tank photography

If you enjoy this class, be sure to check out Shooting Liquid Bubbles and Liquid Photography With David Lund.

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.

© Karl Taylor


  1. Very nice abstract with the paint as it disperses in the water. I was particularly impressed with the test shots using products where the water surface reflected black with a bit of turbulence in the water while the product images looked spectacular in the photos. I see some possibilities here to play with. Thanks!

  2. Can I try this technique of photography with a jewelry. Like a ring glued to a transparent acrelic ( like the one you did for the Pamolive shampoo picture water splash in a tank) and then creating some boubble with a pipe from the top layer of water and finally inverting the image.

    1. Hi Ighosh, yes that is a popular style, many photographers place objects in the tank and then add paint or ink to the water around the product. It is a difficult technique and requires cleaning the tank out and many repeats to get it right also the object in the tank becomes lit differently due to the refraction of light through the water and the tank, so many pro’s use the product in the water as a reference and then shoot it in the same position and angle outside of the tank and blend the two together in photoshop.

  3. I could not figure out how is this possible that a big throw of light hitting the background and when you are taking the picture the background above the water level is absolutely dark. Moreover you are also you are throwing a light on the ground and it also not with any grid but the light is not spilling on to the background and spoiling the effect.

  4. Hi Karl! Hope you’re doing well. I’m having currently a Karlaton or a Tayloraton with all your videos about product photography, trying stuffs and applying your advices at the same time, and I have so many questions about freezing motion with flash in studio. I’m trying to get a nice splash photo and also some paint in a fish tank as well. But i’ll start just with 2 for now 🙂
    I know that Flash duration freezes motion and not the shutter speed, but why then having a shutter speed at 1/500 ? how do you determine how high/low will be the shutter speed when using flash ? is it just about exposure ?

    Second question… if 1 flash (godox ad200) at 1/128, shutter speed at 1/250 and F11 is not enough to freeze a splash (it’s sharp but not perfect and not like I would expect), do you think that buying a second flash (another ad200 or something more powerful like the QT600ii) would help to freeze more the action ? or will it be just the same issue but brighter ?
    Thank you so much for any advice!

    1. Hi Maxine, if you were in a very dark room (no daylight or lightbulbs) doing high speed flash shots and you had the shutter speed at 1/500th or 1/10th it wouldn’t make any difference because all the shutter speed will be doing is cutting out what we call ambient light, that is light that is already existing (daylight or lightbulbs) If you were in a very bright room then a higher shutter speed would be important, not to freeze your subject but simply to cut out the ‘light pollution’ affecting your shot from the daylight, light bulbs, or even modelling lamps! Your second question depends only on what the fastest flash duration your flashes can achieve which should be written in their specifications.

      1. Oh… I think you just made my day and fixed my problem which I was looking for a solution since few days and no one could answer (why my photos are so dark?). But if on my test shot it’s totally black with the shutter speed at 1/10, my photo will be for sure brighter than if I have the shutter speed at 1/250…am i right ? (considering that the flash is always at the same power 1/128). I will give a new try today, and for sure will invest anyway in a new light soon.
        Thank you so much for your quick reply and all your advices. your videos are gold. I’m so happy to pay this subscription 😀

        1. Hi Maxine, thank you. Yes any slower shutter speed has the potential to let more light in from existing light (not from the flash). If you do not have enough flash light then you need to increase the power of the flash.

  5. Hi Karl,

    Enjoying your videos so far. Just wanted to add a note and say if you want the perfect coloured cloud, use acrylic paint, thinned down with some water then injected into the tank.


    1. Thanks Ryan, also another great one is cows cream with printer ink mixed in. Cool it down in the fridge after mixing and then when ready pour it into water for gorgeous puffy clouds of colour.

  6. Hi Karl,

    I love the end result! really nice colour combo! The flash duration of 1/8000s is it at t0.1 or t0.5?

  7. Hi Karl,

    Awesome shots as always, I particularly liked the Champagne bottle. I was thinking of getting a fish-tank, actually making one myself with some help , for various shots but after having seen your videos I had to reconsider the size of the fish-tank. What dimensions (approximately) is the one you are using? Would you say it is a good size or should i make a smaller/larger one?

  8. just overwhelmed by the preparation and the result. loving how you go through ALL the detail to get the shot; priceless education on patience and preparation. Thank you.

  9. hello sir
    i think its been a long time that you did this video and many more ways are there in industry to do this shot with more control over colour its request to please do this video again with new technique so that we could know how that cloud kind of look we could get with colour which people are doing nowdays.

    1. Hi Raman, this technique is still used another way for different results is to mix double cream with a small amount of printer ink and pour into the tank. Chill the cream first.

  10. Hi Karl, I joined your education course yesterday and loving it. I attempted a similar technique a few months ago using fresh cream and food colouring. It’s a lot thicker than milk and not as messy as paint.

    1. Hi David, that method also works well with printer inks (that you buy in bottles) and mix a little with the cream. Cool the cream in the fridge for better coagulation first. Cheers Karl.

Leave a Comment