Everyone loves bubbles. They're a fun activity that also creates epic portraits. We were recently delighted by these colorful bubbles that created iridescent rainbows as they drifted with the breeze. I relied on a few photography tips and tricks to make the images even more magical.
Burst mode takes several photos one after another. It may also look like Action Mode. On phones, you may activate burst mode by holding down the shutter button. I find it's helpful to figure out how to take multiple photos in a row before we start activities like bubbles because it's no fun to fiddle with settings while everyone's having fun. You will have a lot to choose from with this mode, so be prepared with a system for picking favorites in post processing (we'll share how we manage this in a future post).
Center Focus, Choose Focal Point, or Back Button Focus
The camera may get confused with so many moving things to focus on in your photo. This can cause delays while the lens adjusts for each shifting bubble. You can help with this by placing your subject where the camera wants to focus. If you know your camera well, choose a focus point and then keep yourself and your subject in that spot so the camera instinctively grabs onto your person instead of a random bubble. If you use back button focus (more on what this means in a future post), you can save the focus time by choosing your person then skipping the focus command during a stream of bubbles. If the whole focal point choice sounds overwhelming, know that cameras usually like whatever is in the center of the frame so placing your person there will help the camera (and your sense of calm).
Once you have an image, try moving around your subject to see how the light (and bubbles) change as the light source changes around the bubbles. You may be surprised about how backlight or sidelight affects the bubbles. One tip that I learned was that showing just the back of the head (all of the way behind her) lost the context of the bubble wand, so a little sliver of her face, and the hand holding the wand, helped share the story.
From the Side, From the Front
If you want to show lots of bubbles, taking photos from the side (profile) shows a lot of bubbles in focus. When you stand in front of the person blowing bubbles, you can get those soft focus bubbles that look dreamy. Always be cautious that your equipment is safely out of reach of a bug soapy splash, of course. This effect has to do with aperture, so if you want more bubbles in focus, choose a higher aperture. If you want soft-focus bubbles, choose a lower aperture.
Tricks for Even More Bubbles
You can create clouds of bubbles if you can ask someone to stand just out the frame and blow bubbles into the frame. When the kids were younger, we even had a toy bubble machine that could create tons of bubbles to swirl in the breeze. I also used the burst mode, and Photoshop to composite a few photos together when I wanted corner-corner bubbles.
Embrace the Variety
One of the joyful things about bubbles is their mysterious nature. And when you take a lot of images, you may find favorites among the "mistakes". The ones where the focus catches on a bubble instead of a face are also lovely.
Continue Shooting After Bubble Blowing
One of the joyful things about bubbles is the ever-changing mystery of where they drift and pop. Sometimes, a giant bubble completely takes everyone by surprise. Catching bubbles and watching bubbles are just as much fun to document.
Enjoy the Adventure
As always, have fun along with everyone. Bubbles inspire playful smiles for all ages. One of the awesome things about photographing bubbles is that the bubbles are way more interesting than a camera, so people tend to forget about the camera. I love all of the expressions. And they're a perfect opportunity for everyone to play, even the photographer. And if your images don't turn out as you hoped, tomorrow is another excellent day for blowing more bubbles.
And, of course, if you'd rather, I could come take photos of your children blowing bubbles :). Or give you one-on-one coaching to show you tools for more success. Contact me and we can make fun photos together :). I hope these tips gave you ideas and inspiration. Wishing you a magical day! ~ Lenka