He was motivated to start this project a couple of years ago. He didn’t have the money to buy a expensive slow motion camera and set out to complete the project with just his DSLR and a speedlight.
He experienced a lot of trial and error in the process and he shares what he learned in the process to save us time and frustration when taking this project on.
1. Use large bubbles
Larger soap bubbles will be easier for you to focus on than small bubbles, and they will also be easier to burst. Additionally, the composition of your shot can really benefit from using larger bubbles – you should be able to get a frame-filling shot of a bubble bursting without the need to crop.
2. Get a friend to help you
You are probably going to need somebody else to help you with this project unless you have superhuman reaction times! Blowing the bubble, bursting the bubble, and setting up the shot was just too much for me to complete on my own. Having someone to blow and burst the bubble for you, allows you to compose and focus your shot without distraction.
3. Shoot indoors
If possible, shoot indoors so that you can limit the movement of the bubble. I have taken a number of shots outdoors, but any slight breeze will cause the bubbles to fly away pretty quickly, making it much harder to set up your shot.
4. Use a zoom lens
Even when shooting indoors, the movement of the bubbles will still be somewhat unpredictable. For this reason, I have found it useful to use a zoom lens when shooting bubbles, so that I can adjust the focal length as necessary to focus and compose the shot while the bubble is in mid-air. I have usually taken the bursting bubble images with a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens set to between 100-150mm. A further advantage of using this lens is that it helps to create some pleasing bokeh (blurry out-of-focus highlights) in the background while keeping the bubble details sharp when the focal length is increased.
5. Shoot in full manual mode
Shooting in full manual mode will give you the control over the settings that you will need to get good results. Firstly, you will need to set as fast a shutter speed as you can get away with, depending on the available light. The action of a bubble bursting is extremely fast and so you will need to set your camera to a shutter speed of 1/1000 second or faster to freeze the action – the faster the better.
With such fast shutter speeds, you will need to use a wider aperture (lower f-number) or a higher ISO setting. However, given the unpredictability of the bubble’s movements, you do not want to have such a wide aperture (and, therefore, shallow depth of field) that you end up with most of the bubble out-of-focus. For this reason, I prefer to increase the ISO setting before dialling in a wider aperture as some additional noise to the image is easier to manage (and can be corrected to a certain extent during post-processing) than an image where the bubble is largely out-of-focus.
If the available natural light is not sufficient to allow fast shutter speeds, a flash can be used to help to freeze the action. However, I would recommend using a diffuser or reflector with any flash, particularly if shooting indoors in front of a window.
Finally Richard recommends using manual focus. When trying to autofocus he would not catch a focus in time and his shots would be taken after the bubble burst.
Source: Digital Photography School