Bubble Wrap

How to highlight just the edges of objects.

The work of New York studio pro Satoshi is well known to Pop Photo readers—his killer product shots grace «The Year’s Biggest g Deals». But with the to photo above, we present another side of this lord of lighting: his ability to capture liquid in its many forms.

Bubbles have always fas-cinated Satoshi, and for this project he wanted a distinctly architectural look.»I knew not to front-light the bubbles,» the photographer explains. «It would have created busy highlights, drawing attention to the bubbles’ surfaces, not to their crisp edges.»

Instead, he chose a form of backlighting typically used for glass products such as cosmetic packaging and glassware. «It’s especially good for subjects that have crisp edges to define and a minimum of midtone detail to record. This type of lighting from behind gives you maximum control over edge highlights,» Satoshi says. The setup sidebar explains how.

Photographing bubbles is a specialized art. Satoshi offers these tips for meeting its unique challenges:


Start with a child’s soapy bubble liquid. Its oiliness will produce the signature rainbow-like sheen in this photo. By adding glycerin, you can extend the life of the bubbles, but glycerin’s viscosity tends to produce uniformly large bubbles. For variety in bubble size, thin the soap and glycerin solution with tap water.


A narrow blowing chamber produces interesting polygon shapes instead of more common smooth, convex bubbles.


Use a plastic straw; connect several if one is too short. To fine-tune bubble shape and distribution, alternate short puffs with longer continuous blowing as you move the straw through the liquid in a zigzag pattern.

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