Karl E. Deckart
Soap Bubble Gallery: Image Eleven
German photographer and artist Karl E. Deckart is known for his thorough, precise, and beautiful work both in photography through the microscope and with macro camera systems. This gallery of interference photographs made with soap films is a testament to both Deckart's skill as a photographer and his understanding of the physical phenomena that surround our everyday lives. Presented below is soap bubble image number eleven in small format. Click on the image to download a larger version.
Macrophotography of thin soap films freely suspended on a 4 x 4-inch wire frame was conducted with a Linhof large-format bellows camera system utilizing 4 x 5-inch sheet film and imaged using an apo-macro Nikon large format Nikkor-AM ED 210 mm f-5.6 lens. To prepare the soap film, equal parts of water, glycerin, and dishwasher detergent are thoroughly mixed in a container until a solution containing evenly sized micelles is achieved. A freestanding film is formed by dipping the wire frame into the solution and withdrawing carefully to maintain an even film thickness and avoid disruption of material flow across the frame rails. After suspension, the film was illuminated by a reflected light source positioned a few degrees from the camera system. The light was passed through a diffusion screen to avoid bright spots and provide an even illumination across the field. No polarizers were employed in photomacrography of soap thin films. Image ©1999 by Karl E. Deckart. All rights reserved.
Suspended upon currents of air, soap bubbles are delicate shimmering spheres with surfaces of constantly shifting swirls of color. The thin bubble membrane encapsulates pockets of air and provides the surfaces for a spectacular interplay of light. The colors produced by constructive interference are brought about when light reflected from the outside soapy film interferes both constructively and destructively with light reflecting from the interior bubble surface. This dance of light waves upon surfaces of the microscopically thin membrane provides smoothly animated transitions of intense color fluctuations for which bubbles are known. Variable thickness in the film as well as constant interaction among different wavelengths of light leaves a virtual panoply of colors along the bubble surface. Shifting currents and eddies of color are provided by orchestrated movement among long-chain detergent molecules combined with fluent light exposure.
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