Blowing bubbles is a pastime enjoyed by young and old alike. The pleasant motion and swirling colors of the bubbles can be remarkably relaxing. With the right tools and techniques, it’s possible to take striking photos of these soap film phenomena, and that’s exactly what [Eric] and [Travis] did.
After beginning with a robotic arm and a computer fan blowing bubbles, the project moved towards a simple stepper motor setup. A thin frame is lowered into a solution of soapy water, then brought back up by the stepper motor. The resulting soap film is held in front of a black background and carefully lit with a softbox light.
Lens selection is critical for this sort of work – in this case, a TS-E 50mm Macro f/2.8 lens was the order of the day. [Eric] shares other tips for taking great shots, such as adding sugar to the solution to make the soap film last longer, and using a modified speaker to help “paint” the surface of the films.
The resulting images are beautiful examples of the art, showing vibrant colors from the interference patterns created by the light. [Eric] has done a great job of clearly documenting the development process and the final results, making it possible for others to recreate the project elsewhere.
We love horrible hacks like this. It’s a lens and a ring of LEDs, taped to a cell phone. Powered through crocodile clips, also taped to the cell phone. There’s nothing professional here — we can think of a million ways to tweak this recipe. But the proof of the pudding is in the tasting.
[edyb] uses his relatively inexpensive Cannon camera quite a bit. However, in dark areas or extreme closeups, the camera’s image quality leaves something to be desired. [edyb] hopped on the ‘net and found out that a ring light may cure his photo faux pas. Ring lights are nothing new but nothing existed for his lower-end point and shoot camera. With a USB-powered lamp and a spare AA battery pack kicking around, [edyb] decided to make his own.
First, the USB lamp was disassembled, luckily the LEDs were already laid out in a ring shape. The clear protective housing and gooseneck were discarded and the remaining PCB ring was glued directly to the camera. A female USB jack was then glued to the top of the camera and soldered to the two leads connected to the lamp’s PCB. The AA battery holder received a small switch and a male USB plug, also courtesy of a few dabs of glue. The now-assembled battery pack plugs directly into the camera via the USB connector and is its only method of attachment.
The utilitarian modification may look crude but the results are anything but. Check out this close-up macro shot of a Canadian penny. Not too bad.
[edyb] has done some similar mods to other cameras, attaching components with magnets and even using an old Blackberry battery to power the LEDs showing that there is no one way to solve a problem. Check out the video after the break…
If you have ever played around with macro photography, you’ll know how hard it is to get a focused image of something that isn’t two-dimensional. For virtually every 3D object, you’ll have to deal with the depth of field – the small region where things are actually in focus. [David] came up with a neat homebrew solution for making sure everything in his macro photos is in focus using a discarded flatbed scanner and a Raspberry Pi.
[David]’s technique relies on focus stacking. Basically, [David] takes dozens of images of the same object, moving the camera closer by a fraction of an inch before snapping each frame. These pictures are stitched together with CombineZ, a piece of software used for extending the depth of field in images.
The hardware part of the build is a Raspberry Pi hooked up to a stepper motor driver and the shutter button of [David]’s camera. By attaching his camera to the carriage of a flatbed scanner, [David] can inch his camera ever closer to his object of study while grabbing the images for CombineZ.
The results are impressive, and would be nearly impossible to replicate any other way without tens of thousands of dollars in camera equipment.
[fotoopa]’s build is based around two cameras – a Nikon D200 and D300. These cameras are pointed towards the subject insect with two mirrors allowing for a nice stereo separation for 3D images. Of course, the trouble is snapping the picture when an insect flies in front of the rig.
For shutter control, [fotoopa] used two IR laser pointers pointed where the two cameras converge. A photodiode in a lens above the rig detects this IR dot and triggers the shutters. To speed up the horribly slow 50ms shutters on the Nikons, a high-speed shutter was added so the image is captured within 3ms.
[fotoopa]’s 2011 rig took things down a notch; this year he’s only working with one camera. Even though he didn’t get any 3D images this year, the skill in making such an awesome rig is impressive.
[Tim] photographs insects for bugguide.net. As you can imagine, macro photography is a must. He was very frustrated with his camera’s stock ability to capture the insects. You can see in the example on his site that the image is blurry and has some color issues. He did some research and hacked together a method of getting fantastic macro images for relatively cheap. He used the reversed lens method to get his macro lens set up. He then modded his camera with CHDK for more control. He found that his focal distance was too small to get the entire bug in focus, so he took 15 images at different distances and combined them to make the final image. We’re curious how the pringles can macro lens would compare to this. Thanks for the submission [sp’ange]. Lets see some more tips.