Jul 212010

I had an idea for a flower picture a couple of days ago and I finally got all of the required components together tonight. The idea was to photograph a flower submerged in a vase on a black background with multi-colored pieces of paper scattered around close enough to be picked up in the bubbles. I really wanted to get in close and fill the frame with petals dotted with bubbles. I picked up some Sprite to use in the vase to generate the bubbles since I figured water would be too hit-or-miss on where the bubbles were.

I’ve only tried to construct a shot in a studio setting once before. I tried to back light some colorful fall leaves on a piece of glass. It was an utter failure. Well, I suppose that’s not entirely true. It was at least educational in that I learned what didn’t work. I have better equipment now and better command of my camera so I was hopeful I’d get something decent this time. While I didn’t get exactly what I wanted, I came away with something that I like even if no one else does.

Setting up this shot was a bit frustrating. The single biggest challenge was getting the flower anchored at the bottom of the vase and keeping it there while covered in bubbles that wanted to pull it to the surface. Speaking of bubbles, HOLY CRAP! Sprite generates a WHOLE LOT of bubbles. Seriously! It quickly became apparent that I wasn’t going to get the shot I originally envisioned using Sprite. I was now firmly in abstract territory so I decided to just go with it.

I took many, many shots both to make subtle adjustments to the exposure (shooting in manual mode) and just to capture the varying patterns the bubbles made. For the last set of shots, I brought the lens just a couple of inches or so from the side of the vase. The shot below is from that last set and is my favorite so far.

This was shot a f/25 @ 1/200 with flash on camera left and a reflector just inches away on camera right. The flash is about 18 inches away and reduced down to -2 stops. At full size, this isn’t quite as sharp as I’d like it to be, but that’s probably largely due to shooting through the vase plus the inherent loss of sharpness at small f-stops. I was shooting with a remote release although I forgot to have the D90 lock the mirror up first which might have induced a little vibration. Still, it was a fun project and I like the result even if it wasn’t exactly what I was going for.

Special thanks to my daughter Katy who helped a great deal. She did everything from holding the reflector to helping me come up with a way to anchor the flower.