The Purest Picture Spa
The small town of Spa is set just outside a nature reserve in the Belgian Ardennes. This is the home of Spa mineral water - which claims to be the world’s purest water. J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam set out to prove just how pure and clear Spa water is, so the agency came up with the idea of challenging top Dutch portrait photographer, Robin de Puy, to take a photo through a drop of Spa.
The innovation team at J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam were set the task of turning this natural element into a functional lens – and building a unique camera to capture a portrait through a drop of water. Teaming up with tech specialists Etulipa, J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam broke the problem down into several steps.
The force of gravity dictates that a drop of water dissolves into a puddle when placed onto a glass plate, so the first challenge was to find a way to make the drop of Spa water keep its spherical shape. The answer was to add water-repellent coating. The next problem to solve was to find a way to control the shape of the water drop to allow the photographer to pull focus. This was resolved by employing an electro-wetting technique: by changing the electricity voltage running through the drop of water, its shape either contracts or expands. Then, a small mirror was added underneath at a 45- degree angle to reflect horizontal light up through the lens. Finally, a sensor was added, and after much experimenting, the world’s first water camera was finally ready to make its premier.