If you don’t have an actual macro lens for your phone or camera but you want to try taking your own macro photos, you can use the following technique to create your own macro lens using only a drop of water. I read about this technique online (although I can’t remember where), but these are my own instructions and tips on getting good results.
1. Place iPhone 4/4s with the screen facing down on a flat surface.
2. Using a small, pointy object, apply drops of water to the camera lens. I used a wooden skewer to avoid scratching the lens.
3. Add drops of water until you can spread the drop around to cover the lens and the surrounding silver metal ring. Make sure the final drop is uniform and has no bubbles, as this will cause distortions in the final image.
4. Using your skewer, dip it into the drop and pull it out, removing a tiny bit of water. Dry the skewer with a tissue, and repeat until the droplet doesn’t protrude as much (knowing how much will take a couple of goes, but you should be able to notice the curvature of the droplet change). This is to remove excess water that makes it hard to turn the phone over.
5. If you have made the drop right, you should be able to slowly turn the phone over without the drop running.
6. Build a stack of items approximately 10mm tall, and place the phone on the stack with the screen facing up, and the camera overhanging the edge of the stack. The items should be bigger than the footprint of the iPhone (e.g. DVDs, DVD cases).
7. Place any items you wish to photograph underneath the camera and have fun. It’s also really good to just use it as a microscope, too.
– While a perfectly applied drop will usually not run when turning the phone over, it is possible to prevent most drops from running by turning the phone over in a way that minimises the net acceleration experienced by the drop. It is kind of a twisting motion while trying to keep the drop at the same point in 3D space.
– The distance that your camera will be able to focus will vary depending on the size of your drop, and it is usually only in the range of +/-1mm. This means that you will need to make some small adjustments to ensure that the whatever you are photographing is in focus.
– The stack of items must be stable, and the camera should be as still as possible whilst taking a photograph. Not only is it possible to lose focus with the slightest movement or cause blurring, but the water drop moves also, resulting in distortion.
– A strong, direct light source is recommended, and should be shining horizontally toward your miniature studio. This will minimise shadows cast by the iPhone hovering above, and also light your subject adequately.
DISCLAIMER: I do not take any responsibility for any damage your phone sustains attempting this. In my experience, there should be no real danger of water damage when following my instructions (the lens of the iPhone is sealed very well), although anything that involves water and electronics in close proximity always has a risk associated with it.
Thanks to this comment on reddit.