Bright Ideas: How an Imaginative Photographer Creates Ingenious Images


I had a lot of questions when I saw Agnes Bollok Csor's photographs for the first time. You probably do, too. Well, here are the answers:

With mirrors.

Food coloring.

With spray bottles.

In a room, by a window, in natural light.

Nope, just pretty basic gear: an enthusiast's Nikon DSLR and a 40mm Micro-NiKKOR lens.

Dandelion seeds—those white, puffy seedheads that dandelions' yellow flowers turn into.    

My questions were:

How does she do it?

Why are the water drops different colors?

How does she apply the drops?

Where is she making these photos, and how does she light them?

She's got to be using some pretty sophisticated equipment to get these results, right?

And, finally, what are those things the drops are clinging to?

Before I got the answers, I knew one thing for sure: this was one imaginative, resourceful photographer.

How It's Done

Agnes places the dandelion seed heads on the mirror, sprays the seeds and the mirror with colorful water and photographs at the window, holding the mirror in one hand, the camera in the other. "The procedure is very simple," she says, "but it needs a steady hand and lots of staring at the sun's reflection on the mirror." Here we want to mention that if you're inspired to create photos like these, we strongly advise you to be very careful to protect you eyes when dealing with sunlight reflecting off a mirror.

Turning the mirror is a key component, as different angles produce different reflections as the light strikes the mirror's surface. The turning determines not only the light's effect on the subject, but also the look of the background. "Basically, my background is the colors from the water as the mirror reflects the sunlight," Agnes says. It's always a bit experimental: "Sometimes I don’t know how the pictures will turn out until I see them."

Agnes actually switches between two mirrors: one is "a regular mirror," the other has a golden tone; both are about 9x13 inches. Dandelions are almost always the sole subject, though flowers sometime make an appearance in the pictures.

She lives near the Danube River, and large and small dandelion seedheads are plentiful. "I much prefer the big ones," she says. "The drops look better on them."

Her favorite time to make these pictures is before and at sunset, and she shoots year-round. When a setup doesn't immediately produce anything interesting, she'll use another dandelion and spray it a bit differently. "I find something new in every setup—the light, the size of the drops, the colors on the mirror."

Agnes has been interested in photography for a long time, but she's not a professional photographer. She and her husband own a pet shop in Novi Sad, Serbia, where they live. She pretty much limits exhibition of her photos to online sites, but she has made a few print sales. She embraces and enjoys her free-spirited amateur status. "When something becomes an obligation," she says, "it loses its charm, magic and fun."

You can see many more of Agnes's ingenious images at 500px:, and Flickr.

Agnes's interest in photography began with the black-and-white photographs her father took, then developed and printed in the darkroom he set up in the bathroom. She studied photography and darkroom techniques in school, but stepped away from it when digital came along. Eventually she got a D40X, then a D3100; today she shoots with a D3200. When she discovered "a whole new world" in macro photography, she noticed "people were playing with drops. I found it interesting, First I used only water, but I wanted to be different, so I started to add colors to the water." The photos she began to make were means of self-expression. "They come from my head, from my heart...and I loved what I created, so I continued doing it."

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