Shooting Liquid Bubbles With a Single Speedlight

Bubble shots are great for advertising campaigns (such as the famous O2 bubbles) as well as for wall art. The principles and techniques are pretty straightforward once you know how to set up and execute the shot correctly –which is exactly what you’ll learn in this class.

Using a single speedlight, Karl demonstrates how to shoot these artistic images using a simple setup that requires very little equipment. He explains the importance of having a fast flash duration to freeze movement, how create the right bubbles, and how you could get creative with this shot to make it your own.

In this class:

  • How to photograph bubbles
  • Liquid photography ideas
  • Speedlight product photography setup
  • Freezing motion with fast flash duration

To see how Karl retouches this image, check out Liquid Bubbles | Post-Production.

If you enjoy this class, be sure to watch Photographing Liquid Art and Motion and Interview With Product Photographer Jonathan Knowles.

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.

© Karl Taylor


  1. Hi, Karl . I recently watched some food films showing boiling soup with ingredients seems also shot through some sort of glass. I wonder how is that achievable ? Is it shot in a tank as well? But how come there’s so much boiling bubbles keep on going up from bottom of it , As it would require some heating from the bottom to create really high temperature? Or it’s not in a regular tank but in some other container?

    Thanks ahead!

  2. Nigel

    Poor Lucy!!! Staff Abuse I think Haha. Would those kinds of images be good to sell as stock photos? Very good Karl Thank You 🙂

    1. Hi, yes she got cold hands but this was many years ago so they have since warmed up. Yes this sort of shot is very good as stock images.

  3. Great BTS film. What is so interesting about your work Karl is the simplicity of your approach, always very efficient. From lighting to set up. One tip I have is when I want the bubble structure to be more rounded I add a thickening solution that is totally transparent but makes the water consistency thicker, bubbles rise slightly slower as well, think of a lava lamp effect but at just 10-20% of that visual effect.

  4. Gary Stasiuk

    I want to try some product shots using a tank and submerging the hero items. I recently saw a lip stick which was covered with tiny air bubbles.. shot pointing into the tank, but presented upside down from ‘as shot’. The effect was beautiful and is certainly worth considering, but in my mind I pictured something that does not essentially look like its underwater, and I introduce pigments to form clouds or shapes around the items. I have worked with a tank before, but the images were just of the pigments. I made some very interesting shots and learned a great deal about using the pigments and having to refill and empty the tank after every few shots (which was a pain). Squeegee was important tool to help with tiny bubbles on the inside glass, but do you have any suggestions concerning removing the tiny bubbles from the product.. perhaps a small paint brush? As well, when using pigments or dyes, is it a matter of getting the base shot, then compositing additional elements throughout? I also was wondering if there were any other considerations that comes to your mind to make the objects not look like they are submerged, that I may not be considering. Any helpful advice?

    1. Hi Gary, a lot of things in there! Yes a brush can help remove bubbles. Bubbles usually from from imperfections on the product as they need to grip something. For your pigments try printer dyes mixed with double cream and kept in a fridge for an hour.

      1. Gary Stasiuk

        I had used artist inks.. but would never have thought of using printer dyes and cream. I will give that a try.

  5. Brilliant video and love the simple setup. One question, how do you manage reflections coming off the front glass of the tank?

    1. Hi, as long as your light source is not in front of the tank and your shutter speed is high enough then you’ll cut out any ambient reflections but the best way is to create a dark fabric cover from the edge of the tank over the camera or a black cardboard cone from the lens hood to the tank.

  6. This is very nice, I can try it once I get a fish tank. I use Canon as well. Can I use high sync mode to fire flash faster?
    Happy shooting 🙂

      1. Thanks Karl. I am hobbyist and never bothered to learn deep in to it , I started on that course. I actually cancelled my membership as I lost my job but I will come back once I find one :). Really like the teaching. I am setting up my second bedroom as studio so that I can experiment stuff 🙂 Could you please add more videos for hobbyist people like using flashlights or how to help regular people to pose and angles of the camera/lighting, working with different skin tones (like Asians)? As most of them do not have such expensive equipment.

  7. If you used the Canon dslr would you have to ensure the ambient was not affecting the exposure as the synch speed is 1/200th max,cheers Rob

    1. Hi Robert, yes that’s exactly right but you’d probably be also shooting at small aperture like f16 for greater depth of field so very little ambient light would get it. Just shoot in a dimly lit room and you can test this first by take a shot without the flash and seeing if any ambient light is recorded.

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