How to Photograph Bubbles

Photographing bubbles can be quite frustrating because they are one subject that disappears on you in the space of a few seconds. They seem to pop right when you press the shutter button. Plus they are extremely fragile, they can float away from you, are very hard to hold, hard to focus on and are transparent so you’ll really need to watch your background.

However, the effort is worth it because they are very pretty to look at, can be iridescent like a rainbow caught in a tiny orb, they provide a sense of whimsy, and they make interesting shapes since they can attach to each other to form a cluster.

To shoot bubbles, you must first have a bubble solution. You can buy it from toy stores and hobby shops but you can also create your own with a few key ingredients. 

Homemade bubble solution:

Mix around 1/3 cup of liquid detergent (preferably Joy Ultra) in a cup of water. Add a teaspoon of glycerin or sugar. This will help stabilize the bubble shape to make it last longer before it bursts. Leave the mixture alone for at least a few hours. Your bubble wand can just a length of wire that has been looped to form a circle with a handle.

Lighting bubbles can be tricky. Sunlight does a great job of it since it can evenly light the bubbles. Take note that they can reflect whatever is near them such as trees, bushes, your house, even yourself. If you are indoors and want to take a close-up shot, a bright lamp will do but you’ll have to strategically place it in such a way that it doesn’t get reflected in the bubble. You can use a large white sheet to bounce off the light. This will show the bubble’s iridescence without the lamp also appearing in the image. Another light source can be a flash. Place a black backdrop, focus on the area where your bubbles will be, then use the flash when the bubbles are in position. Try using the burst mode if your camera has that feature.

The camera settings really depend on your setup. If you are outdoors in the sunlight, then a fast shutter speed will freeze those bubbles in mid-air. If you are indoors and are taking macro shots, a slow shutter speed such as ¼ of a second might work better. Since bubbles explode, they usually leave a soapy residue so be careful of sticking your camera lens too close to the bubble. 

There are all kinds of bubbles, from the blow bubbles children play with to those you get when you shake the shampoo bottle. There are giant bubbles and there are tiny ones. There’s even bubble film, which is the flat ‘sheet’ of bubble on the bubble wand before you swipe it in the air or blow on it to form a bubble globe.

There are so many ways of photographing bubbles, some use an elaborate setup while others just use whatever is at hand. Experiment with other people’s tactics or be inventive and create your own setup. Also experiment with composition by thinking out of the box. Bubbles are already naturally visually appealing but are quite common subjects.  It’s up to you to make your bubble image pop (yes, pun is intended) and stand out from the rest.

This entry was posted on Friday, September 10th, 2010 at 2:34 am and is filed under Advanced Tutorials, Articles, Miscellaneous, Photo Inspiration, Photography Tutorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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