Detailed Images of Bubbles as They Burst

bubble bursting

Some of the most mundane subjects can sometime account for quite remarkable photography. Such was the case when photographer Fabian Oefner shot a series of striking high-speed photographs. He shot colorful soap bubbles at the precise moment as they ruptured, turning  into a cloud of minute droplets. Entitled Iridient, the Zurich, Switzerland-based lens man made use of high-speed flash units to capture the tantalizing pictures. Browse through the images in the series, and you will see the progression of the bubbles: First they are fully formed globes, and then they begin the spit-second process of bursting as they start to rupture, until finally, they totally disintegrate into tiny droplet of soapy water, appearing like a micro-meteor shower.


popping bubbles

Two major challenges present themselves when shooting this type of photography, according to Oefner. The first one is the lighting technique, as it is difficult to illuminate the bubbles so that their iridescent colors can be captured by the camera.

iridient bubble

This was achieved by Oefner through strategically placed lights all around the bubbles from various angles. Additionally, he illuminated panels surrounding the bubbles. As a result, light is seen reflected inside the bubbles and the rainbow of colors is successfully captured in the pictures. The specific setup used was flashes to one side and reflective panels on the other 3 sides. Oefner, then proceeded to create bubbles using the metal part of a sugar pourer.

bubble bursting

bubble popping

The second challenge is shooting the popping bubbles at the precise moment. This requires “high speed flashes and a lot of patience,” according to Oefner. A couple of hundred shots went by until finally, the precise moments of popping bubbles synchronized with the cameras high speed settings.

Here’s a peek at his setup:

project setup bubbles

Oefner, in retrospect says it’s all about timing and practice. “Eventually one gets a sense of when the bubble bursts and the success rate of capturing the right moment starts to increase.”

popped bubble

poked bubble

See his mesmerizing bubble shots over on his website.

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Patricia Ramos

Patricia Ramos

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.