Well after about 100 million frustrating attempts to actually capture a bubble where I wanted it to be I ended up with a handful of useable shots.
Below you will see how I post processed them.
From the Raw image the first adjustment is for white balance exposure and basic contrast.
This is a bit of a trick as with so much of the image being black the histogram is of very little help. The idea here is to boost as much of the light while keeping the background crisp and black.
Next is noise reduction. I like how lightroom handles noise reduction as the color noise tends to be more of an issue. In this case the low iso (only 400) and the relatively large image (36 MP) means very little noise reduction is required to publish and image on the web (say 1024 x 768). There is very little noise in the image to begin with but with the help of the sliders we can clean that up nicely.
I also turn off all the sharpening in camera raw as I prefer to sharpen later in the process (as is the case almost always if you intend to do any post processing beyond the camera raw). Open the image for further editing.
I then did the same thing with a second image.
I copied the second image and pasted it into a new layer on the first image.
Then blend the layer together using lighter color. This is a great method of exposure stacking and will add the second bubble to the first. I used layer masks to ensure the background and bubble edges stacked correctly.
I moved each layer around until the bubbles were in their desired positions. I had some issue with a few of the bubbles at the top or bottom of the frame as they could not be moved to the center of the frame without looking flat due to their missing edge.
Next I flattened the image and adjusted the “levels” allowing me to clip the blacks for a much sharper image and making the blending of the two images look a bit more natural by setting the “true black” across the board for both images.
And last of all, sharpen.
Here you go.
The final image is a bit more complicated, but I’ll post that later. For now, give it a try – see how well your images turn out.