02 June 2010

Tiny Bubbles: Or How I Turned a Mediocre Photo Trip Into a Helluva Good Time

And no, despite the title, it was not through the use of any alcoholic beverages.  This week's Macro Monday post (a day late due to the holiday and family fun) comes from a trip I took after work late last week to Great Falls National Park. 

I had hoped for some dramatic lighting due to approaching thunder storms and barring that some encounters with some wildlife.  I didn't have great luck with the wildlife and there were very dramatically lit clouds, just behind a ridge and scrubby tree line from the river (over the river the sky was pretty boring).  Despite my desire to try some new pictures at this location, I eventually found myself at my usual favorite location by the side of the river.  With the sky supremely unexciting, it seemed I was locked in to taking isolation shots of the rapids with a slow shutter speed, which I had done many times before.

Then on a whim, I popped my camera off the tripod and scrambled over some rocks to a little side tributary (the river was high for this time of year).  I initially planned to scout out a shot of the small cascades as the tributary rejoined the river, which was reflecting a bit of the dramatic sunset occurring away over the trees.  As I stooped down trying out compositions, my attention was drawn to the hundreds of tiny air bubbles being generated at the bottom of the cascades.  I wondered if I could capture the beauty of these ephemeral bubbles as they were created and then quickly destroyed by the current.  Since I wasn't producing any great images that evening, I decided to just play.

I didn't go back for my tripod.  Instead I tried handholding macro shots of the bubbles.  The bubbles were being created, pushed around, and destroyed so quickly there wasn't any chance of choosing a particular composition.  I just had to choose a particular promising location and then fire a rapid burst of shots in the hope that a captured a good composition.  Soon I was running up and down the cascades trying different spots, slipping and sliding, getting my boots and pants wet, but I was having a grand time.  I didn't expect to get any great shots, I didn't care, I was just having fun.  As the light dropped, I had to boost my ISO to 800 to have any hope of capturing the action and handholding the macro shots.  I knew my older model camera was practically useless at any ISO over 200, but I was having so much fun, I decided not to worry about it and kept on shooting.  I was just having fun playing!

While I might not have captured any award-winning images that night, I was happy with many of the bubble images and abstracts I ended up with.  I loved the fact that due to the chaos of the bubble patterns, each image was unique and probably could never be replicated even if I tried.  Most importantly, I rediscovered the joy of photography once again and got my creative juices flowing.  I broke through the rut of making the same kinds of images I'd made at that location before.  Hopefully, I'll continue to remember to open myself up to play, especially on those days when I feel I'm not getting any good images or that I making the same stale images over again...

Thanks for reading and enjoy the bubbles!  Please click on the full screen icon at the bottom of the slide show for best viewing.  Just hit the icon again or hit Esc to return to the webpage.

Bubbles - Images by Elijah Goodwin


  1. Wonderful images! All kids seem to delight in bubbles ... big kids too (you)! A very enjoyable post. Thanks for sharing!

  2. That's what is all about ... having a good time out there! You are very creative and resourceful.
    Nice post and photos :)

  3. Thanks all for the kind comments. It was a fun evening.