Photographing Bubbles

Posted by on Jan 13, 2013 in Techniques | 0 comments

Bubbles Blue by Tony White
100mm, ISO 800, F/11 @ 1/25sec

Sometimes we are unable to spare the time to go out and photograph during the day, so sometimes we need to find things at home to photograph.  This guide will walk you through photographing Bubbles.

For this you will need a tripod, a light (or flash), something bright and colourful, water, (Olive) oil, a fork, a clear glass dish, and something to raise the glass dish up.  For this I have used a glass bowl but it could easily have been some phone books (that is what they deliver them for ;) isn’t it?)

Bubbles Setup shot 1 – Raise the dish

You will note in the bowl I have a tea-towel, this will serve as background and give the bubbles a rainbow of colours.  This is something you will be able to experiment with, I am sure you will find a variety of different items to use for backgrounds to get a variety of different pictures.

Bubbles Setup – Tripod and Light Placement

Next you will need to place your tripod over the dish so you can photograph from directly above.  You will also note I have a lamp positioned to provide light onto the dish, you will be surprised at how much light you need so brighter the better.  But do be careful as some bulbs will get very hot and as you are working very close to it, you need to watch you do not burn yourself.

Now that you have everything in place, you need to put some water into the dish, just enough to cover the bottom, then pour in about a capful of oil.  You will note that the water and oil don’t mix and the oil clings to itself in a large blob.

Bubbles by Tony White
100mm, ISO 200, F/2.8 @ 1/160sec

To create the bubbles you need to mix it up using a fork, give it a good mix and you will get a variety of different sized bubbles.  Now you have everything prepared to photograph, using Av (or A on Nikon) you will want to use an aperture of F/8-F/11 to ensure you get a reasonable depth of field.  The above is what happens when you use too small a depth of field, you can see only parts of the bubbles are truly in focus.  I highly recommend using Live View and a 2 sec timer or shutter release to ensure you do not add any movement to the images.  You will also need to manually focus to ensure you get the areas you wish in focus.  Unfortunately you will find that the slightest breeze will cause the bubbles to move around in the dish and over time they will pop and change patterns.

Bubbles #2 by Tony White
100mm, ISO 200, F/8 @ 1/5sec

By using an aperture of F/8 we get more of the bubbles in focus as shown above.  I am using a Canon 100mm Macro lens on a 7D for these images. But you use what you have and make sure you get as close as possible and focus in on particular groups of bubbles.  I will point out, whilst I have gotten as close as possible to finish the images I have cropped this afterwards to ensure the focus is on the bubbles.

I invite you to try this out for yourselves and share with us on Facebook the images you create!