The Delicate Architecture of Water Droplets

Yohani Kamarudin
Yohani Kamarudin
Scribol Staff
Art and Design, February 19, 2013
  • Nature is full of beautiful wonders. Some of them are unimaginably big, like distant galaxies, while others are much, much smaller, but no less enchanting, like these tiny water droplets. In these stunning photographs by Russian photographer Andrew Osokin, minuscule globes of water form natural works of art, or even architecture, as lovely as any created by humans.

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  • Resembling a miniature crystal chandelier, droplets cluster on what looks to be a dandelion seed caught in a spider’s web. All around it, other beads cling to the web itself. It could be a decoration for a fairy ballroom – although one that will sadly disappear as the water evaporates.

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  • Osokin has called this photograph “Bows and Arrows,” but we think the water droplets could almost be a colony on an alien planet. The spider’s web crisscrosses from one transparent biosphere to another; look really closely, and you can even imagine tiny moon buggies zooming back and forth.

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  • Here, the trapped droplets resemble dozens of lanterns hung at different heights from an incredibly high ceiling. We can’t work out exactly what’s being reflected in all those shiny surfaces (can you?) but the effect is striking all the same.

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  • If it were larger, and made of glass rather than water, this perfect sphere hanging from a bejeweled blade of grass would be a coveted ornament. The greenery reflected upside-down in the water only makes it more captivating, and given beauty like this, it’s not surprising that so many artists take their inspiration from the natural world.

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  • Strung between leaves, these droplet-laden spider webs look like hammocks in which some tiny creature might rest. Or, turned upside-down, they may perhaps resemble the roofs of the Sydney Opera House. Either way, the effect is dazzling.

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  • The watery beads in this photo seem to be long strings of shiny lanterns, stretching away into the distance. It’s an example of nature easily creating a festive-looking scene that would take us hours to reproduce.

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  • In this elegant image, the spheres take on the purplish tint of their surroundings, while the reflections within them give the illusion of texture. We have physics to thank for making round drops of liquid like this possible – and for being the chief architect behind all these incredible photographs.

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  • Here, a spider’s web hangs off a curved stem and has captured tiny droplets of rain. The web itself is so fine that it’s barely visible, so it looks as if the droplets are just hanging in space. It’s hard to believe that such a delicate material could hold this much water, but spider silk is stronger than steel, weight for weight.

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  • The reflections in this line of droplets make them seem as though they’re made out of straw. The level of detail that Osokin has managed to capture with his Nikon D90 camera is quite astounding; even within the smaller beads, individual blades of grass are visible.

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  • The water in this image is again attached to a spider’s web, here transforming it into a beaded curtain that’s fit for a fairy princess. Water droplets are round in shape because the molecules attach to one another, and a sphere has the smallest possible ratio of surface to volume. Science really can be beautiful!

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  • Pearls of water fan out along the web on this plant, creating a glittering structure as striking as anything found in an art gallery. Once again, we marvel at the ability of the fine cobweb to support so much water. Scientists are currently studying spider webs and their incredible strength and resilience, hoping to use their secrets in many applications – from man-made materials, to network designs like that of the worldwide web.

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  • The drops on this three-strand web are so perfectly placed that they’ve formed a tiny bridge between the green ‘towers’ around them. Of course, anything small enough to cross the bridge needs to be careful of those watery traps.

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  • There are worlds within worlds in this image; or at least, globes within globes, as we see through the larger transparent water drops to smaller droplets on the other side. The whole structure makes us think of a futuristic space station, with separate ‘capsules’ and antennae emerging from the sides.

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  • Osokin calls this photograph “Facets of Witchcraft,” and there’s certainly something enchanting about the single amber-colored drip. Inside, we can see flecks of material from the structure it hangs from, while light is reflected in a streak across its surface.

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  • The captured droplets here highlight the crazy pattern of this spider’s web. They cluster in some areas and spread out in others, in a way that is both random and beautiful. At least, it is to us; it’s perhaps not so impressive for the two tiny insects trapped in the center of the web.

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  • This image makes us feel like we’re floating underwater surrounded by bubbles of air, rather than the reverse. The threads holding the structure together are hardly visible, so the globes appear to hover weightlessly. One of the characteristics of spider webs that scientists find interesting is their ability to maintain their shape, even if single threads are broken. If there were a way to duplicate this effect, it could have wide-ranging applications, including making buildings that are earthquake-resistant.

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  • The elegant water droplets on these tiny stems could almost be enchanted towers poking up out of an otherworldly forest. Bet they’d offer a fantastic view from the top.

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  • To end this post, a beautiful string of beads, all of them perfectly round and glistening. These little jewels are actually made of a resource more precious than any real gemstones: water. Thank you to Andrew Osokin for sharing these breathtaking photographs of a world we rarely notice.

    Sources: 1, 2, 3

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