• Mike

How to photograph river rocks with household items, to create a beautiful rockscape background.

This is a project that you can easily do with your kids and a cell phone. The process is super simple but produces wonderful results.With a DSLR it will look amazing. All you will need is a camera or cell phone, a cookie sheet, a spray bottle, and some rocks. Here's how to do it.

Start by collecting pebbles along a riverbank or wherever you can find small gravel pieces. Make sure to collect both tiny and large pebbles. Also, if you have kids, challenge them to find the prettiest stones because those will work best. interesting textures and shapes are all going to be very good. Try to fill about the same volume as a 5 gallon bucket with rocks. If you absolutely can't find anywhere to gather stones, go get a bag of gravel from the hardware store for under $5 .


Once you get your rocks home. you need to separate them out. and wash them. The dirt on them will look unnatural and ruin their polished texture. Gather a few bigger stones but mostly pick the smaller pebbles out.

Take your separated pebbles and rinse them in the bath tub until the rinse water is clear. You may need to repeat this step several times to get all the grit, moss, or algae off. Shaking your container around helps knock the dirt loose.


Take your cookie sheet and rocks and set them by a window or outside on an overcast day. You want very diffuse light. If you absolutely have to use indoor lights then use indirect light so that there won't be strong shadows. Now start arranging your rocks on the cookie sheet in a pleasing way. I started around the outside and built up towards the center, placing some interesting larger rocks around throughout the sheet.



now for the magic! Spray down your pebbles with tap water. If you add a tiny dab of dish soap to your water you can make them look even smoother as it allows water to more easily penetrate into the cracks of the rocks.



Now you can snap your photo. In this case I used a cell phone to show how you don't need a high-end camera to get nice results. Take several pictures and try with your flash on and off. The bright light from your cell phone will sometimes catch the pebbles and make them sparkle.


How lovely! This shot would look great as a cell phone background even. The process of arranging rocks can be restarted now to create new configurations. Your results will never be the same.



with a DSLR the results are even more striking and make for a wonderful photo.You can't even tell there is a cookie sheet under these pebbles.