29.04.12, Week 37: Bubbles

by pbnb

I haven’t managed to get out much again this week, I’ve been under the cosh with more deadlines for coursework and for internships. Tonight, I was in the position where I didn’t have a shot to put up, so I tried to think of something that I could easily take in my room. I’ve taken more inspiration from the Digital SLR Magazine feature that I wrote about in last week’s post, which focused on photographs from around the house. In the feature, they took a picture of bubbles through a macro lens in the bathroom sink. As the bathrooms in my house at university are some what like a cave, I modified  the concept a bit and took a picture of washing up bubbles in a Pyrex bowl underneath my desk lamp. I don’t own a macro lens, so I took the image with the close-up filters that I bought a while ago.

It took me a while to get bubbles that looked good. At first, I didn’t stir up the water a huge amount, so the bubbles were all very small and there wasn’t enough variation throughout the frame to make the picture interesting. That was my primary criticism of the shot from the magazine, and I didn’t want to replicate what I feel is quite a boring image. So, after a bit of stirring and reorganising of bubbles, I managed to get a good variety of sizes which made the basis of the image more worthwhile.

If one looks closely at the bubbles, there is an oily residue on the bubbles at their uppermost exterior, most noticeable on the largest bubble in the centre of the frame. I noticed it as I was fiddling with the fine focus of the lens and decided that I wanted to make a feature of it in the shot. I think it makes the bubbles look like eyes because of the colourless central circle which represents a pupil and the coloured area around it which looks like an iris. I really like the way the bulb from my desk lamp reflects in all of the bubbles, particularly the reflection that is most in focus in the foreground, a third of the way in from the left hand side of the frame. The reflections also add character to the out of focus bubbles, which look like their centres are glowing. This is particularly relevant for trying to prevent the image from being boring.

I’m pleased with the tone of the image, as I was afraid that the direct light of the lamp might make the bubbles appear too white and therefore prevent any contrast between their shapes. In fact, this was the case to begin with until I found the right balance of speed and aperture. I like the warmth of the image, it makes the bubbles look more pleasant, as they are quite clinical when they are brightly lit. With the light at the level that it is, there is a clear definition around the edges of the bubbles produced by the increase in their thickness where they touch. This was exaggerated by putting a fairly dark cloth underneath the transparent dish so that less light was reflected back through the bubbles from my white desk. Maybe next week I will have managed to get out and take some shots away from my room and house. If not, I will hopefully have gathered the things I need for one of the two indoor shots I’ve been wanting to take ever since I had my camera, if not before.


I’ve discovered a new band called Junip today and I listened to their album, Fields, when I took the picture above and am listening to it again whilst I type this. The band consists of  the solo artist José González, whose cover of ‘Heartbeats’ by The Knife seems to be universally known, and two of his friends. I discovered their existence because I suddenly realised that I hadn’t heard anything about José González writing any new music, and found out that he has been busy producing new music, just not on his own. Apparently the band have existed since before José González’s debut with the EP Crosses, and his solo work was actually discovered through being part of Junip. It took ten years for them to find the time to write an album together, with two EPs, included with the deluxe version of the album, being written in the time that intervened.

The music is at the same time quite similar and quite different to José González’s solo work. It’s not as cut back as his albums Veneer or In Our Nature, but there is a down tempo vibe to the music and his vocals are unmistakable, as is his choice of guitar lines. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable album and the couple of listens I have had of it so far suggest that it’s set to become one of the albums that I often sort images to. I am yet to listen to both of the EPs, but I hope they are of a similar sound. If you like José’s music, you should take a listen to Junip. For me, ‘Without You’ and ‘In Every Direction’ are two stand out tracks, and most of the album is up on YouTube if you fancy a listen.


      • Date taken: 29.04.12
      • Aperture: f/8.0
      • Speed: 1/80 sec
      • ISO: 400
      • Focal length: 55mm