Category Archives: Soap bubble pictures

Pictures including soap bubbles

Dark Kanizsa Triangle

Here’s a dark-on-light, bubble version of The Kanizsa triangle.  The triangle is usually shown in white against black circles and lines, and can even look slightly brighter than background, though its edges are only indicated by the gaps in the lines and by the segments missing from the circles.   The brain adds the edges and fills in the triangle, as the most probable explanation for what’s missing.  The effect was created by Gaetano Kanizsa, as a demonstration of subjective contours, which in turn were first explored a bit over a century ago, as examples of Gestalt theory.  Bit of a link for enthusiasts that – ditto the following links – but if technical stuff is for you, there’s a great historical survey of the theory.  The theory as then developed is not now accepted, and just how the brain reconstructs the triangle is still debated.

Like many geometric illusions, and like the watercolour illusion (see recent post), the Kanizsa triangle also appears when reversed out as a black shape against bright lines and segments.  So here I’ve recruited some soap bubbles as a background to the effect.

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Bubble Beach Penguin

Here’s another picture to add to our category of soap bubble imagery.  For details about how I photograph the bubbles, see entries in the soap bubble category.

I hadn’t noticed before that there are some great movies of bubbles on Youtube, such as this model of Jupiter’s turbulence, or this movie of a bubble bursting. There are some really astonishing still photos of bursting bubbles in this report from the Mail Online site.  They’re by Richard Heeks, who’s currently studying for a literature PhD at Exeter University in the UK.

I was fascinated to see those, because back in October 2008 I posted an image of a bursting bubble as a visual metaphor for the financial crisis then at its height.  But not having Richard Heeks’s stunning skill and patience as a photographer, I faked up (pretty obviously I hope) a graphic of a bubble burst in Photoshop.  Not remotely like the real thing, as it turns out.



Soap Sheets

Here’s a new item for our category of soap bubble pictures.  The movie shows a science-centre-style demo, not of a bubble, but of a soap sheet.  It’s a way of showing patterns like the ones that appear on bubbles, but streaming down a huge sheet.  The quality of the movie is not great, so here’s a still photo that shows the effect.

I think this was originally a Victorian demonstration, but I don’t have chapter and verse for that.  It’s a demo you sometimes see in hands-on Science Centres, but often it’s not set up so that you can really see the colours.  For that there has to be a black background to the sheet, and a translucent screen, at an angle of forty five degrees to the sheet, brightly illuminating it.

I’m fascinated by patterns like these.  Just setting patterns in motion, as in many screen savers, doesn’t seem to me to produce effects that are as beautiful.  I don’t think it’s just the colours.  If we could characterise what makes these patterns special, might we then open up a whole new world of visual expression, using computer animation?  Or would we just end up with a small repertoire of pretty effects?

Fancy trying to set up your own soap sheet?  It’s not so hard.

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Summer posting pause

Desert Bubble

Here’s a picture to announce a summer posting pause.  We’re working hard on brilliant new features, for a relaunch in a few weeks.  But meanwhile explore the archive – there’s stacks on the site now, and it’s almost all new stuff, not the versions you see on lots of illusion sites.  Try putting the name of any illusion that interests you into the search box at the bottom of the lists to the right.  Or explore popular categories, like Impossible Worlds.  And don’t forget (if you’ve been here before) that there are now nearly a hundred brilliant mini illusions for you to download for your own sites.

This picture is a Photoshop fantasy rather an illusion, but it’s here because I like bubbles. I think the creature is a gecko, (please comment if I got that wrong). The background and sky is from the Nile in Egypt, but I snapped the gecko in the London Zoo. There’s an earlier post on how I photograph the bubbles.  For all the bubble picture posts (and some nice ice) see the category Soap Bubble Pictures.

Funky Wind Turbine

Like my other soap bubble pictures, this one is fantasy rather than illusion, and the only miracle going on is thanks to Photoshop.  The wind turbine is in Cornwall, as far as you can go in the pointy bottom left hand corner of England without falling off the end.  The bubbles start out as real ones, and see my earlier post for how I photograph those.  (Also for how other photographers have done it).  For more of my bubble pictures, click on soap bubble pictures in the categories list to the right.

There is a perceptual point to this bubble picture though.  When you look at it, do you find that you can almost imagine what it would feel like to be the wind turbine, making this serpentine gesture?  A bit as if you were about to whack a football into a goal with your head, maybe?  That wouldn’t be such a surprise if this was a picture of a human being.  One of the most interesting discoveries of recent years has been of “mirror neurones” in the brains of primates.  These are brain circuits, associated with real movements or gestures, but which fire off without consequent movement when we merely observe someone else making a gesture.  But it’s curious that we can have the same kind of experience when we see a picture of a wind turbine, merely behaving like a person.

Kitten with query bubble

This isn’t an illusion, more a special effect, but I just like bubble pictures.  The question mark soap bubble started out as two photos of real bubbles.  In a later post I’ll go into my the ways I use Photoshop to distort and adapt the bubble images.  For how I take the bubble photos, and who else is doing it, see my earlier posts on bubble pictures, by just clicking on Soap Bubble Pictures in Categories, to the right.