So while shooting a wedding a couple weeks ago I discovered Water Beads. Not discovered as in Amerigo Vespucci kind of way, but more in the, ‘So that’s what those things are.’ kind of way. I’ve seen them used before, but never played with any before.
Water beads are these things. Little dehydrated polymer balls that re-hydrate when soaked in water. I bought a small bag of a couple ounces. The linked image below is a pound of beads which when re-hydrated would probably fill a bathtub since my couple of ounces filled up a large salad serving bowl.
So. I picked some up from Michael’s in a tiny little bag. They come in all colors and sizes but Micheal’s only has a couple and it looks like they only sell one size. If you look on Amazon (Image link -> They sell different sized and colors) I bought black. I was looking for red, because those go faster, but they didn’t have any. The store had them with the floral vases section in the front of the store.
So, you pour these things in water and let them sit. If you remember those plastic animals that you dump in water and they grow into larger, slimier versions of the same animal, these are like those things – except much faster. It only took a couple hours for these to get to be full sized.
All the beads are spread out and glisten under the strobes. They were throwing off some nice reflections. You can see the orange-ish glow of the ceiling lights reflecting off the beads In this shot. Like I posted above, I only had a few ounces and they completely filled up a 9×13 cake pan with some beads left over.
Since these beads live in the water and adsorb so much of it, they retain that wet feel and have an organic look and feel to them.
So the beads bounce and get all over the place. They squish and smash. When they bounce they seem to get less opaque, as from in the image above, you can tell the ones that are bouncing have less color to them.
I found a flask that I had laying around (literally) and decided to do something with it. I probably should have gone out to the collection of glassware I have and gotten something larger, but this worked out nicely.
I found out a couple items when doing this experiment.
1 – That water doesn’t always help
2 – These beads squish fairly easily
The beads w/o water look a lot like fish eggs sitting there. Nothing too exciting.
Likewise, adding some H2O to the mix didn’t help either.
I the water beads are looking more like a bust than something cool to use. They are fun and there are probably plenty of cool things to do with them, I need to think of some though. They don’t allow a lot of light to pass through, so maybe a better/less opaque color would be better.
They can definitely be used as a prop, or be added to another image to help the scene though.
I didn’t take any setup shots – so this is kind of cheating and just posting the final image. But this is the final image that I came up with out of all the images. It’s nothing spectacular and won’t win any awards, but it was fun to edit. The flask was filled with water and the beads set along side of it. The color was added in post along with the smoke.