Swirling Soap Bubble Rainbow Weirdness

Here I go again with another set of macro experiments.  Have you ever noticed that soap bubbles show a rainbow of colours if  light hits them a certain angle?  What if you replicate this effect and shoot it close up, what would you see?  The gallery below is a collection of such images.  It’s amazing just what a camera sees that escapes the naked eye.  Is it art?  Who cares!  I like the effect and it was a fun project.

This was a low budget project as the only materials I needed to purchase were bubble blowing solution from a dollar store and some glycerin from a drug store.  I added 20% glycerin to the bubble solution to thicken it so that the soap film would last longer. With taxes, it cost me less than $10 and I can still blow bubbles if I get really bored.

To create a suitable surface to hold the soap film, I rigged a frame using two coat hangers and a clip.  Thanks to the added glycerin, it would hold the soap film surface for a few minutes before it burst.  This gave me time to setup the shots.  The lighting was tricky as it had to hit the bubble at an angle and the camera had to be carefully positioned to catch the effect, but not ruin the shot.  Soap film acts like a mirror, so it was necessary to shoot it against a velvet background and diffuse the light evenly with a white light tent.  The camera had to be aimed so that it would not reflect its own image, but also capture the rainbow effect.  Since each shot had to be made at an angle, I used f/16 and f/20 to maximize the depth of field and create the illusion of a flat surface.

The last image in the gallery shows my setup.  Each shot was made in near darkness using an off camera flash as the sole source of illumination.

Picture 10 is especially weird.  Can you find the alien embryo?

Taken with an Olympus E-3 using Zuiko 50mm f2.0, Zuiko 35mm f3.5 and Zuiko Digital ED 50-200mm f/2.8 SWD lenses.

12 thoughts on “Swirling Soap Bubble Rainbow Weirdness”

  1. Hi Rob,

    These are really beautiful images! I’m a small time graphic designer in Melbourne, Australia and I’m setting up a new website with a friend. I was wondering whether you’d possibly let me use one your images on my new website as a background? I know people just normally steal stuff – I thought I’d ask as I’ve had things stolen from me and I hate it. Totally cool if that’s not ok. Give me a shout on williamhunt@gmail.com. Thanks in advance, Will

    1. Hello William,

      Thank for the compliments! I’ll contact you by email and you are welcome to use an image. Cheers! Rob

  2. Hi Rob, amazing experimentation! Love the results.
    Similar to Will, I’m working with some friends on an art projet (Canada) and we’d love to use one of the texture on the website. Would be thrilled if you’re ok with us to use it 🙂


    All the best,

    1. Hello Justin,

      Thank you for your comments! Much appreciated. Please feel free to use one of the textures, but also give credit. When your project is done, can you please send the link.


  3. Rob, these are definitely art. 🙂 They should be printed large and hung on walls.

  4. Hi Rob, you seem to have already received quite a few requests to use your photo and this is one of them. We are opening a bar called Chameleon and would like to use your image as a background for a panel that goes on the bar counter. I will probably need a good quality image since the panel will be quite large. Please let me know if you are open to that. Drink on the house when you visit 🙂 Thanks in advance.

    1. Hello,

      Thank you very much for your interest in my photos. I would be happy to share some of my images for use in your bar and could provide high resolution files. Where is your new bar located? I won’t say no to free drinks 🙂


      PS: I will also email you directly.

  5. Hi Rob, my husband and I are setting up a Bar called The Chameleon and wanted to use one of your pictures for a panel in the bar counter. Would it be too much to request a high resolution image?
    Drinks are on the house whenever you visit 🙂 Thanks.

  6. Hi! If it’s ok we would like to use one of these photos as a CD cover art on our next single. You’ll be credited for that of course.

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