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MACRO LIGHTPAINTING ON SOAP BUBBLES

A PERFECT DAYTIME-SETUP IF YOU HAVE A DARK STUDIO/ROOM AT HOME. IN THIS TUTORIAL I WILL HAVE A FOCUS ON MACRO LIGHTPAINTING, SHOT WITH SIMPLE BUT VERY EFFECTIVE TOOLS. THIS MIGHT TRIGGER YOUR CREATIVE SENSE DIRECTLY, SO IF YOU TRY THIS OUT TOO, LET ME KNOW WHAT RESULTS CAME OUT WITH YOUR OWN SETUP! 

 

SO FIRST OF ALL - HERE´S WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

-A CAMERA WITH MANUAL MODE AND AN EXTERNAL TRIGGER RC (CANON 7D, 18-135MM LENS USED BY THE AUTHOR)

-A TRIPOD

-A MACRO LENS OR MACRO ADAPTER-FILTERS (E.G. A MACRO ADAPTER-KIT FROM POLAROID, APROX. COSTS ARE €25.-, MOSTLY AVAILIBLE FOR ALL LENS-SIZES)

-LEDS OR EQUIVALENT LIGHTSOURC(ES)

-FLASH (IDEALLY WITH AN ADDITIONAL STROBE FUNCTION)

-CARDBOARD AND BLACK DUCKTAPE TO CREATE THE FLASHBOX-STENCIL-ADAPTER

-3 X THE SAME PRINTOUTS OF YOUR GRAPHICS ON OVERHEADFOIL (WORKS WITH TEXT, LOGOS, DRAWINGS, PATTERNS AND SELFMADE STENCILS)

-MILKFOIL OR BUTTERBREAD PAPER TO SOFTEN THE FLASHLIGHT
 

FOR THE BUBBLEBATH:
 

  • 100ML GLYCERINE (APROX. +/-€5.-GET IT FROM YOUR LOCAL PHARMACY)

  • 250ML DESTILLED WATER

  • A SPOON FULL OF WASHPOWDER

  • A STRAW

HOW WE START - FIRST CREATE THE TEMPLATE ADAPTER FOR THE FLASH

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To create the designs for the template flash attachment on the computer, first take the dimensions of the flash and adapt them to the A4 layout.

Leave enough space between each logo/word and make sure the background stays completely black. Remember, white is not printed, it only appears as white in the flash image through greaseproof paper, otherwise the stencil will burn out the photo.

In the copy shop or in your own printer, you can now print out the overhead transparency with motifs three times. Now all you have to do is cut out the motif and stick it on top of each other three times with Tesa so that it becomes opaque.

Take a piece of cardboard about 4cm high and bend it around the flash head. Mask off the flash area with greaseproof paper and fix the cut-out film motif on the front side with black gaffer tape, mirror-inverted, to avoid flashes. This completes the lightning template.


Next, take a glass bowl, fill it with distilled water and 100ml glycerin, add a spoonful of washing powder, stir until everything has dissolved and the recipe is ready.

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Now it can really start!


Place the bowl on a towel to avoid making a mess, as the liquid will be a bit slimy.

Prepare the camera by attaching the macro lens or macro adapter and take a test picture in the light to check the sharpness. Now it's time to blow through the straw until the desired bubbles form.

Don't forget to turn off the AF on the lens. Only then turn off the light.

SOME COMMON THOUGHTS BETWEEN:

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The closer you get to the bubble bath, the harder it is to get a sharp picture as the bubbles burst fairly quickly.

 

Especially when the flash is used with the template, there needs to be enough space between the lens and the soap bubbles.


I used two different setups for my shoot, one without a macro lens with a large bowl (30 X 20 cm) and one with a smaller blue glass bowl (approx. 15 cm in diameter) in order to be able to illuminate from below

Pic above: The essentials

Pic above: Selfmade stencil-flashbox

Flash manually adapted depending on the stencils brightness

Polaroid offers a great Close-up macro lens-adapter-kit with 4 different lenses

READY FOR THE FIRST PHOTO! (Be sure to pay attention to the camera settings of the following sample images for comparison.

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TIP: You can quickly determine how many bubbles are created and how big they should be by blowing a test. When the bubbles burst, particles can get onto the lens, creating a nice bokeh effect if desired.

In the first test I had the lens 25cm away from the bowl, zoomed in fully close enough.

With a blinking LED I could now create stripes of reflections by moving the light downwards over the soap bubbles. A flashing LED behind the shell generated additional reflections from the outside.

Depending on the exposure time and light source, different reflections can now be created. I have two sample images for each mode so that the differences are clear. Color foils can also create a great extra effect.

 

In the second test I focused on individual bubbles, the camera was about 10cm away from the soap bubbles. A 10x macro adapter was used here on the 18-35mm lens, and the images were triggered using a remote control.

The exposure time was between 1.5 seconds and 8 seconds,

For the reflection of the ABC I triggered the template flash about 2cm away from the bubbles. Here I had to crank up to F29 to avoid burnout in the photo. A second LED hidden behind the shell provided different colored reflections.

TIP: Try to take pictures in black and white and experiment with the RAW settings later. The focus has to be adjusted again and again, since each soap bubble will move differently. With a side fan you create movement of the glycerine on the surface of the soap bubbles.

Pic left: Distance of your handheld devices to the setup / right Pic: Indirect LED light from the transparent side creates glossy unsharp edges on lower bubbles

Macro Lightpainting

SHOT ON CANON 7D, F7,1 – 1,00s – ISO 100 – 18-135mm lens@69mmshot with a red bike-LED as lightsource. Depending on its blinking-modes your LED can create very different looks of lighttrails.

Macro Lightpainting

SHOT ON CANON 7D, F5,6 – 2,50s – ISO 100 – 18-135mm lens@21mm

Shot with a pixelstick as lightsource moved horizontal 5cm above the bubblebath

Macro Lightpainting

SHOT ON CANON 7D, F9 – 2,50s – ISO 100 – 18-135mm lens@75mm

Shot with a Logo-stencil, flash set on strobe mode.

Macro Lightpainting

SHOT ON CANON 7D, F9 – 2,50s – ISO 100 – 18-135mm lens@25mm

Shot with a Logo-stencil, flash set on strobe mode, focus in the front

Macro Lightpainting

SHOT ON CANON 7D, F6,3 – 4,00s – ISO 100 – 18-135mm lens@33mm

Shot with a Logo-stencil, flash set on strobe mode, focus in the center.

Macro Lightpainting

SHOT ON CANON 7D, F7,1 – 5s – ISO 100 – 18-135mm lens@26mm

Shot with a single flashed black & white (transparent) stencil, flash softened with milky white foil

Macro Lightpainting

SHOT ON CANON 7D, F6,3 – 4,00s – ISO 100 – 18-135mm lens@22mm

Shot with a typo-stencil, flash set on strobe mode, focus itop right

Macro Lightpainting

SHOT ON CANON 7D, F29 – 2,50s – ISO 100 – 18-135mm lens@41mm

Shot with a single flashed stencil

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