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By Bp122
Hi All

This is my first attempt at shooting oil bubbles on water.
I have been meaning to do it for a long time, finally I stopped giving myself reasons to not do things and did it!

I was trying to show the relative differences in size here, by having lots of small circles on the periphery of a gigantic one - kind of like stellar objects in space. Hence the title!

As per the setup, I didn't have a flat sheet of glass, however, found a tankard (which I won at a raffle!) with no embossed logo on the bottom.
I spaced it up using three spice jars (like a tripod) over my girlfriend's colourful top.
And used two speedlights at 120 degrees to each other, and a blanking plate to block light coming from where the third speedlight should have been. Both speedlights were pointing at the colourful top, angling down.
Over this, I used my tripod with legs fully extended and camera lens pointing down vertically.

Regarding the crop, I tried a few options, this one I found very pleasing.

The circles are just olive oil on water, this was before I added the dish soap (I didn't like the effect it gave)

I am open to ideas and suggestions as to how I can make this better, especially in terms of composition and lighting.

Thank you.

Tags: Water Bubbles Colourful Specialist and abstract Pop Oil Circles Psychedelic

Save & earn with MPB this Christmas; trade-in and buy pre-loved


banehawi Plus
17 2.6k 4274 Canada
8 Oct 2017 2:31PM
This is excellent as far as I can see.

Ive never done a shot like this, - so perhaps one of the other contributors can add more.

Im sure if this was in the general gallery it would do very well indeed. It is very stellar-like, embryoninc and even suggestive os the beginning of life in the solar system
mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.0k 2465 United Kingdom
9 Oct 2017 10:21AM
This is spectacularly good, and in the main gallery it would collect votes and I'm sure awards.

I'm not sure that anyone in the Critique Team has experience of this work, but there are several members of the site who have. I'll try to track down some portfolios, one of the strengths of the site is that it enables members with particular specialities to learn from each other.

So far as composition is concerned, I think my inclination here would have been to rotate the camera in order to use that long arc as a rising diagonal. I think the effect would be more dynamic. This for me is about the explosive energy of a cosmos in miniature. You mention having cropped, could you upload the full frame as a modification, it might enable me to try that out.

mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.0k 2465 United Kingdom
9 Oct 2017 10:31AM
OK, some members who have done this well... I went to the main gallery and did a filtered search under Oil & water. Here are some examples that came up, and if you check back in the various members' portfolios you will find more examples.


Hope they all work!

This member is worth checking out in particular, look back a few pages in her portfolio.

There are also links to a couple of articles here.
Bp122 4 13 United Kingdom
9 Oct 2017 5:38PM
Hi mrswoolybill

Thank you for your comments.

Regarding the composition, what you mentioned is exactly what I wanted to get out of the critique.
Thinking about it, a rising diagonal does seem better, as it might look like the earth-rise from the surface of the moon or seeing the Jupiter's moons with just a sector of red planet in the frame.

I have uploaded the mod which is an uncropped image.

Bp122 4 13 United Kingdom
9 Oct 2017 5:41PM
Also, I looked at the links you added showing similar (but much better) work of others here, they are phenomenal.
Some have gone for a really minimalist look, while others have gone for a busy look. Some are very calm and gentle on the eyes, but others are sharp and pop out of the screen.

I can see the limitless possibilities there. I'm glad I did this, I can explore a lot more in this, I hope.
mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.0k 2465 United Kingdom
9 Oct 2017 8:54PM
Thanks for adding the original, I love it! I've added two quick modifications, both rotated and cropped to square, the second flipped horizontally. Don't forget the possibilities offered by flipping, as well as rotation and cropping.

I favour a square crop for abstracts because it does not draw the viewer's eye in a particular direction. Landscape leads the eye to explore from left to right, portrait leads upwards - which actually works very well in your crop, if one thinks of the night sky analogy. Square leaves the eye free to bounce around the frame.

And thanks for the feedback, it's music to our ears.
Bp122 4 13 United Kingdom
9 Oct 2017 9:07PM
Ah, thank you, again.

When I was about to upload the uncropped image, I said to my partner that I should perhaps be brave and give a square crop as another mod. But somehow decided against it (chicken!!)

Regarding the options of flipping and rotation, I have never done it. Mainly because I have never done too many abstracts such as this which has a lot of freedom and possibilities. perhaps it is a good thing that I shot about 20 different bubble patterns during this shoot. Not all are great, but will try flips and rotations to see which of the ones I thought weren't good can be salvaged!

What I do want to try next is splash photography.

P.S As you can see from the exif, I switched to a D750 full frame setup from my D7000. I must say I wield a mile wide smile every time I shoot anything!
dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1884 England
9 Oct 2017 9:12PM
Full frame allows some options that anything smaller does not, and considerable benefits if (like me) you have a lot of legacy film lenses! However, for many people and purposes, smaller formats are fine with the right lenses.

I don't have anything to add to Moira's suggestions above - you have clearly learned a lot from shooting this, and a bit more from the critiques, which is excellent.
Bp122 4 13 United Kingdom
9 Oct 2017 9:31PM
Hi Dudler

You are absolutely right about the full frame and its benefits.
I have a few legacy lenses (50 f1.8 AI and 200 f4 AIS). Also started shooting film with a SLR drom the 80s.

I want to see how mindful I am about light while shooting. Haven't developed my first film yet, but I shall do it soon.

And thank you all very much for giving me the right nudge to think outside the box. I am really glad I came across the critique option.
Had it not been for you all, I'd still be shooting everything underexposed, keeping the subject in the middle of the frame, cutting off the bird's legs and never stop to think before I clicked!

I fail to see why more people don't do this!

Best regrads

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