Blowing Bubbles on the Thames

Don’t burst my bubble! Due to COVID-19 I’ve not been able to get out much to shoot new photos, but I have a hell of a backlog. This image was captured last year while in London on a business trip. I usually stay on Bankside near the Tate Modern and the River Thames. This location gives me some amazing views and interesting subjects along the South Bank. I’ve posted a ton of these shots in the past. Some of my favorites are in the London Travel Gallery section of the blog.

This guy was hanging out blowing huge soap bubbles for kids walking down the Thames with their families. I waited about twenty minutes to capture a shot of him without any children in the photo. This shot was taken testing out a new lens, Sony 85mm f/1.8 portrait lens, on my old A7Rii. I loved the way the foreground popped out of the background skyline. Once I grabbed a few clicks, I tossed a Pound coin in his bucket. I try to always tip buskers and street performers that I shoot. They make their money this way, and I get photos to work on. It’s a Win-Win.

Post Processing Bubbles

While I liked the bones of this image, the typical ‘grayness’ of London made the photo look really drab. In On1 Photo, I tweaked the develop settings for color, saturation, temperature, and other small changes. No matter what, I couldn’t get the image to look less ‘blah’. Moving over to the effects tab, I added basic changes I tend to add to all images, Dynamic Contrast, Noise Reduction (color only). On a whim, I decided to use Black and White (fade to black) removing the filter from the bubbles and the person blowing them. Once I masked everything out, I pumped the vibrance up on the bubble using a Local Adjustment and some luminosity masking to clean things up. The image was rounded out (pun intended) with a Big Softy vignette.

I don’t do a lot of selective color photos, but I think this image was a perfect use-case for doing it. The colors swirling in the soap bubbles really popped out from the black and white background. Overall I am really happy with how this came out, especially as the image was simply a test shot for a new lens!


Image EXIF Data:

  • Title: Bubbles on Thames
  • Camera: ILCE-7RM2
  • Focal length: 85mm
  • Aperture: ƒ/1.8
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/3200s
  • Taken: 7 April, 2019

Image Location Map:


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