Psychedelic Close-Up Photography of Soap Film

soap film

For a 70s throwback experience, check out the psychedelic images shot by Scotland-based photographer Jane Thomas. Her experiments with soap, water and a macro lens to capture light and reflections are mesmerizing swirls of color you would not imagine are really just close-ups of detergent products. She uses different varieties of shampoo, hand soap, and shower gel, occasionally mixed with sugar, to create the diversity of remarkable patterns. The results are out of this world, spectacular forms.

psychedelic soap film

Thomas got the inspiration to shoot these images when she was doing her daily chores one fine day. The 58-year-old said she was cleaning a grill pan with washing up liquid when she became inspired to create the colorful series.

“One day I noticed the flat soapy films across the squares of the grid inside a grill pan,” said Thomas. “I don’t think I’d ever noticed their tiny colorful patterns before and it struck me they’d make a good subject. I couldn’t wait to get the camera out, that’s when the mania for bubbles came about.”

soap film colors

Thomas photographs the patterns and colors created naturally from the interplay of reflected light rays from the front and rear surface of a thin film of soap and water held in a tiny frame, a child’s ‘bubble wand’.

The inner circle used for these images measures 18mm, and some of the photos are of tiny areas within that miniscule ring. It requires a lot of patience since it takes a while to arrive at the ideal images. Once the solution is applied to the bubble wand there is only a window of 30 seconds to capture the best patterns.

detergent film

“I use a bright, office angle-poise lamp to illuminate the soap which I always photograph flat in the wand, never as a round bubble,” says Thomas. “I have the camera, with a macro lens, on a tripod and I use a cable release for the shutter.”

She says her attention to detail was developed from years of describing surroundings for her blind husband, Geoffrey. “It has made me much more observant which, I think, is often how I notice tiny details of things around me which I like to photograph. Although Geoffrey can’t see my work he is the most supportive person I know. I wouldn’t be doing any of this without his help, suggestions and encouragement.”

detergent bubble film

To date, Thomas’ collection includes a huge assortment of patterns, from rainbow stripes to weird tadpole-like shapes. Thomas, a retired music teacher, from Fairlie, Ayrshire, claims though that the perfect composition is yet to be created by her.

colors of soap film

colorful detergent

colorful soap

See her magical bubble shots at her 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.