Planet Tozer

Creative Review commissioned photographer Jason Tozer to shoot these pictures on behalf of Sony using its new Alpha digital camera.

dsc00465_1_0.jpg - Planet Tozer - 809

Creative Review commissioned photographer Jason Tozer to shoot these pictures on behalf of Sony using its new Alpha digital camera.

They are, in fact, all common-or-garden soap bubbles, shot in-camera. We’ll be revealing more on how Tozer obtained these stunning images later in the week. The full series is shown below and to see them at a larger size simply click on each image. Alternatively you can check out the Flickr set we’ve created for the project at CR’s photostream page.

Click here for more details on the new Sony Alpha D-SLR.

For more of Tozer’s work, see

To look at the complete set of larger versions, check out the CR photostream or Flickr set for the project.

  • I’m amazed at the quality of digital photography these days. Night exposure settings are getting better by the minute. Off topic: Just learning about the posting practices here. How come the URL for the sony camera is tracked by doubleclick?

  • Jim

    @nirav v. patel – Why that would be because this is marketing. Pretty marketing for sure, but marketing nonetheless.

  • iaind

    Wow these photos are amazing. When I first got a digital camera a few years ago (Sony DSC-1 or something), I used the video mode on a high-ISO setting to record some videos of my friend blowing bubbles into the night sky (with my friend out of shot). I held a lantern nearby to illuminate them enough to show up on the camera, the effect turned out great, if not a little bit lo-fi. The impact of the fine details in your photos makes me want to revisit my original idea and see if I can get some quality stills.

  • it goes without saying that these images are incredible. Reminds me of the work done by Darren Aronofsky and his effects team for The Fountain.

  • Thanks for that tip Edward (Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain) I’m going to have a look at it. I’ve not heard of that film before & all the stuff on the web makes it sound very interesting.

    As regards the bubble shots, they are effectively marketing yes, but they were actually taken on that Sony camera. There’s no deceit going on regarding the pictures or how the’ve been made.The camera’s more than capable.

    ‘iaind’, i’m glad you want to revisit your earlier work after seeing these, let me know how it turns out, if that’s ok…

  • wow… so abstract yet mundane. these little and insignificant bubbles have been captured so beautifully by the extreme close ups.

    and the half visible ones really look like planets.

  • Who is responsible for this Sony Rich Media and blog ad buy? Brilliant. Link to resume?

  • With technology/software the way it is today it makes it less believable that photographs like these are real. I’m definitely not second guessing these at all. My friends and I just took some long exposure shots at night in New Orleans of the abandoned BigK and Sears. They look like photos that have been photoshopped. When I show them to people they ask what filter I used :( !

  • I agree Peter… “When I show them to people they ask what filter I used” This is a modern problem isn’t it. People are often unwilling to believe that images are ‘real’. It’s an extension of conspiracy culture perhaps, you’ll see photographers borrowing from ‘snapshot’ imagery to lend their work believability, or showing the studio equipment in the edges of frame.

    But this could be argued as insecurity. Or even as a further manipulation.

    I think the answer is that these days it’s open season on how images are produced, there’s photography, retouching, illustration, CGI, all being mixed up very skillfully together. Image-making is what they call it now, but skill is still the benchmark. I don’t think it really matters how long you spent with your camera compared with at at your computer, it’s all an extension of the same process. Folks have been manipulating the medium since it’s invention. Computers have just made it cheaper & more widely available.

    For what it’s worth these shots are straight from the camera. But is that really an issue?

  • I just found a really relevant post to this already up on this blog:

    “As a method of representation satellite photography is so trusted, it has been interesting to mess with that trust.”

    It works both ways… The difference is always going to be the art/commerce demarcation line.

  • g

    I’ve seen the portfolio reel of the person who did The Fountain special effects, AMAZED is a small word.

  • Beautiful work. Really lovely idea and fantastic execution. My fave is the third one.

  • The debate over whether photographs are real is a bit pointless, surely? No photograph is an exact representation of reality and none ever will be. The ‘truth’ or ‘realism’ of a photograph really depends on the beholder’s preconceived notions of how reality appears to them.

    What’s really interesting is how much these bubbles look like planets. Maybe our entire universe is an expanding soap bubble in a still larger universe.

    Anyway, great photos!!

  • Stu

    This is all getting a bit philosophical isn’t it… Google Plato & Forms for more on that :)

    I think that, although very interesting philosophically, here we are debating one form of art against another.

    I think I have to agree that skill is one benchmark, but in the case of photography if one can achieve a shot naturally to me it has more meaning and more talent / ingenuity – one has to be more creative to physically achieve an image than they do to paint in photoshop or simulate in 3D what they wanted to achieve in the first place physically.

    That said though, those satellite shots work in the opposite way!

    Perhaps its photography as observation vs. photography as art?

    Anyway lovely photographs.

  • The guy that did the effects in The Fountain was Chris Parks. Below is an article on him that an in British Journal of Photography in January 2007:

    Inspired by Chris Parks’ marine and abstract imagery, Hollywood director Darren Aronofsky asked him to create a vision of outer space for a movie which opens this week. Gavin Stoker reports

    It’s not often that a Cotswolds-based photographer working from a cowshed receives a career-making call from a feted director asking him to contribute to a ground-breaking Hollywood movie. But, working in tandem with father Peter – pioneering cameraman for documentary series Life on Earth and three times technical Oscar winner – it’s an occurrence natural history and fine art photographer Chris Parks takes in his stride. And he casually mentions a second studio in Bermuda with a nonchalance that would turn most struggling snappers a shade of puce.

    Parks has an unusual background in art and engineering, learning his trade photographing and filming marine wildlife with Parks Senior. He develops and constructs his own optics, taking an equally inventive approach to his creative ideas and it was this quality, along with his father’s reputation, that helped attract Darren Aronofsky, the acclaimed director of esoteric films Pi and Requiem for a Dream. He asked the Parks team, known collectively as Image Quest 3-D, to provide the stunning abstract visuals for his forthcoming new release, The Fountain.

    Ever ambitious, Aronofsky wanted to create a movie that blended romance and science fiction across three different time periods, without the latest CGI effects. He wanted more organic illusions that would, like the classic 2001, stand the test of time. He thought he saw outerspace and cloud nebulae in the ‘micro photography’ of Chris and Peter Parks, and used a portfolio of their digital stills and test footage to help secure funding for his dream project.

    These test shots became crucial when original lead Brad Pitt dropped out, helping the studio heads at Warner Brothers understand just how arresting the movie could be. Pitt was replaced by X-Men’s Hugh Jackman, and the female lead filled by Aronofsky’s partner Rachel Weisz.

    ‘Darren really wanted to create something that would be timeless and felt strongly that using CGI would date us,’ the film’s visual effects supervisor Dan Schrecker confirms. ‘When we came across the work that Peter had been doing for years, we found the perfect solution for our outer space sequences. The elements that were shot by the team at Image Quest 3-D provided us with an organic chaos that we would never have been able to achieve digitally.’
    Marine inspired

    Inspired by the experience of shooting marine micro-plankton, the Parks achieved their ‘organic chaos’ by painting with a variety of liquids, creating breath-taking visual reactions on a microscopic scale. Ingredients used included water, alcohol, paint dyes, curry powder or yeast, while the average liquid set up involved a tank just an inch deep, and four by three inches wide. These reactions were then captured either as a still or moving image.

    ‘They’re done on a small scale, because the smaller the volume of liquid, the more control you have,’ says Parks.

    Some processes produce something visually arresting within seconds, while others, such as Chris Park’s ‘fluid paintings’, can take 24 hours to reach their peak. The fluid paintings are captured as photographs using a variety of optics, from a Victorian lens to an eyepiece from a submarine periscope, plus a smattering of top quality Zeiss, Wild and Leica technology and specially-ground elements.

    ‘Fluid paintings are essentially static (in that the camera catches them as a moment in time),’ Parks explains. ‘But they are an abstract expression of something specific, such as sound underwater. A lot of the ideas I’m exploring hark back to the underwater realm. My starting points are the movement of marine organisms and how light plays underwater, so the transparent liquid is my canvas, albeit a three dimensional one.’

    Parks’ fluid paintings are essentially personal work, but they have proved commercially successful too. In addition to The Fountain, the Parks have worked for Gordon’s Gin and BUPA.

    ‘We get a brief from clients but in some respects it’s not “fixed”, because they often come to us not really knowing what it is we can contribute,’ says Parks. ‘It’s not pre-defined as CGI would be. We view a commission very much as problem solving.

    ‘(Similarly) Darren Aronofsky’s films develop from an idea he’s trying to communicate. He’s not primarily concerned with making a Hollywood blockbuster that brings in $100 million in its first week, and so doesn’t constrain himself with the language of films that have gone before.’
    Fluid approach

    Parks estimates that he and his father shot 5000 stills for The Fountain, all of them captured on the Nikon D2X digital SLR. The pair stuck with Nikon for the consistency of its lens mounts, as they’ve developed some complex optics for Nikon cameras over the last 40 years.

    But, adds Parks, the work created for The Fountain was largely analogue. ‘I used natural processes as well as my own hand to create the imagery,’ he explains. ‘So it’s got mistakes and subtleties to it. For example, if you drew a line freehand on a piece of paper, you’d never get it as straight as if you drew it on a computer. You add texture to it, which brings it to life.’

    Aronofsky’s brief for the outer space visuals was, fittingly, fluid. It left ‘massive room for interpretation’, says Parks, something that many photographers might find daunting.

    ‘It wasn’t, “I want red rings coming in from the sides, or some sort of explosion”,’ he laughs. ‘It was more, “I want this sort of feeling”, or “It needs to be oppressive and powerful”. Once we started creating imagery, of course, he was able to say whether it did what he wanted, or needed a change in nuance.’

    Peter Parks had previously dipped a toe into Hollywood, contributing to the Christopher Reeve-era Superman films and the equally arresting Altered States.

    But his son acknowledges that it was still exciting when Aronofsky came calling, because he was so open to new ideas. ‘It’s not the fact that it’s some big Hollywood director, but the ideas that turn us on,’ he says. ‘Having a good creative team of people with interesting ideas is what gets us excited about going to work the next day.’

    Power of two

    Photography has been a life-long interest for Chris Parks, and he’s happy to admit that he was originally inspired by ‘growing up with my dad doing what he did – natural history documentaries and commercial work – although most of that was film and movie based’. But he adds that he comes to photography from a slightly different angle; Peter Parks originally studied zoology, while Chris initially trained in design and engineering.

    The work shown here was derived from miniature set-ups, but father and son aren’t afraid to think big. Image Quest 3-D, which is co-run by both Parks, makes pioneering large format natural history films for IMAX cinemas. More recently, the pair worked together to get their own project, Bugs 3D, off the ground. ‘My father has always wanted to use the best tools available, which has meant 120ft screens and 3D visuals,’ says Parks.

    This stereo optic work is mainly shot on a pair of Nikon D2X cameras, utilising their relatively high shutter speed and ability to create time-lapse photography. But Parks still favours the Nikon F4 with slide film when shooting his fluid paintings, which sell for £900 or more.

    ‘I enjoy working in (moving) film, but stills give me the change to create an image that’s as close to “perfect” – what I was setting out to achieve – as possible,’ says Parks. ‘That particularly appeals to me.’

    Natural history still exerts a strong allure, however, and future projects include a photographic exploration of UK marine wildlife. ‘We’ve done very little around the shores of this country, so that’s something we particularly want to explore,’ says Parks. ‘We’re also trying to get a new series of 3D books off the ground. 3D was my main research area at the Royal College of Art (where he studied for an MA) and we have developed a viewing system that doesn’t require glasses.’

    He is also continuing to explore and develop his fluid painting, and is currently looking for a suitable place to exhibit it. And whatever he does after that, you can be sure that it will be pushing the boundaries.

    To find out more about Chris Parks, visit The Fountain opens in the UK on Friday (26 January).

  • Wow really impressive. Nice soap planet!!!

  • thank you

  • Amazing. Some of them look like planets in the universe or something astrological.

    Nice work.

  • Katy

    I think Jason Tozer is a bubble genius, he also happens to be very handsome and has one of the finest beards known to man.
    lovely bubbly Jason, they are cool as school, you my friend are hanging looser than a mother gooser!!!!

  • qing yu China

    He! I thought that the planet is, the macro world – the microscopic world, is so similar! ! ! Beautiful.

  • I am Jason’s agent here in the states and these are my favorite pics of his to date! He is a brilliant photographer!! Thanks so much Jason!

  • Davina Mediczek

    perhaps the hubble space telescope does not really exist.

  • Yes, so much like planets.
    Perhaps before we send rockets to try and understand the planetary atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn maybe we could usefully spend some more time studying the weather systems of soap bubbles right here?

  • The maddest of dogs.

    I agree Jason does have some of the finest facial hair known to man. The photographs just don’t do it nearly the justice it deserves. Who said the camera never lies?

    Remind me to buy the good fellow a beverage.

    Just adds fuel to the theory that the moon landing was actually shot in a small studio in Hoxton with a large lump of cheese a cocktail stick!

  • Jason Tozer

    More bubbles & images from the upcoming gallery show ‘Close’ here:

  • wow…. really fantastic!!!

  • Great results! Really Nice.

  • spectacular imagery. amazing photography.

  • stuART

    I just tried some of these at home. The results were reasonable, but the most difficult thing is to get the bubbles to last. Any chance you would share your mix? I think I need to get a decent diffuser too. Excellent job, thanks for sharing the info.

  • It ‘a great job, it would be nice to be able to recreate!