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3 Nov 2013

I had a late night wedding event yesterday and was feeling a little bit lethargic to go out for photography despite good weather today. So I was thinking is there any photography ideas that I can take on at home without the need to setup any studio strobes, background, etc.

Just when I was thinking desperately, an idea struck me while watching the movie "Upside Down" with the lightbulb in front of the TV (note: I've left the lightbulb in front of the TV after my post yesterday on "Photographing Lightbulb with Reflections"). I thought why not an upside-down world in a lightbulb?

I recalled that when I was a kid, my dad used to remove the filament of lightbulbs and reared little guppy fishes to make me happy. Back then (and now as well), I was always amazed with how everything was looking upside-down from a water-filled lightbulb before he put in the fishes.

Hollowing the Lightbulb

So I took on the daunting task to stripe off the filament inside a lightbulb. I am not very good with such handy fix work, and so I googled "How to hollow out a lightbulb" … which gives me plenty of results to study how the filament can be removed. After going through a couple of videos, I buck up my courage and spent almost an hour to finally hollow out the lightbulb.
(Note: I'm not posting the instructions on how to hollow out a lightbulb as there are many videos out there in the Internet. Do take extreme care and not to cut yourself when doing it.)

With the lightbulb hollowed and cleaned-up, I filled it with water. Then, I tie a thread to the metallic base cape of the water-filled lightbulb and hang it on the windows in my living room. The prop required is completed :)

Experimenting with Different Angles

From the water-filled lightbulb, I was able to see how the multi-storey carpark and flats in front of my living room were looking upside-down in the lightbulb. I took a couple of shots and experimented with different angles.

I noticed that I had to photograph from a position slightly lower than the hanging lightbulb in order for the buildings and sky to appear dramatically in the lightbulb. However, this could be due to the reason that I'm staying at mid-floor level.

After taken the shots that I wanted at my house, I hurried to my parents' house which is on high-floor to try out. This time round, I noticed that I could photograph the lightbulb at angle almost perpendicular with the lightbulb. I was also able to get more of the sky appearing in the lightbulb as well.

To add a little more drama to the landscape inside the lightbulb, I did a HDR with +/- 2 stops bracket shots. Also note that I have actually flipped the lightbulb to show the landscape inside in a upright position, which means anything you see outside the lightbulb is actually upside-down.

In both cases, I noticed that the extreme round top as well as the curvy "waist" of the lightbulb is actually reflecting more of the interior environment of the house. Perhaps next time, I should bring the lightbulb to an open-space environment and try out if it is the same.

Other Things to Note

  • When filling water into the lightbulb, air bubbles will then to get trap inside. What I did was to gentle clean up the bubbles with a cotton bud.
  • Finger prints and fine dust will tend to appear on the lightbulb's glass surface. You need to take care of them before photographing otherwise they will just turn up in the photo. While it may be totally impossible to clean up all the fine dust, at least clean away the finger prints :)
  • Take extreme precaution when hanging lightbulbs on windows. Make sure that it is tightly secured. Otherwise if it drops off the window, you might fatally injured any passerby. (Note: In Singapore, even if the falling lightbulb did not hit anyone, you can still be charged for high-floor littering.)

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