16 Jan 2016 The art of making frozen bubbles
Story and photo by Linda Henderson
February seems to be the only month that my husband and I don’t get outdoors and explore the 501. It is the month that doesn’t seem to have as much to offer photographically. I love the lights and decorations in December. I enjoy the cool crisp January mornings that we photograph the migrating waterfowl, but when February comes rolling in with its frigid days, I seem to run out of things to take pictures of. There are those few mornings of fresh fallen snow, but that’s just about it. However, last year I discovered the art of making frozen bubbles during the cold mornings of February.
Soap bubbles can be blown in very cold temperatures; they freeze and remain intact for quite a long while. I spent about a week last year in the early morning experimenting, trying to get just the right combination to be able to produce these magical looking snow globes. It truly is amazing to blow the bubbles using a wand and see the bubble freeze in mid-air and drift softly down. Most of mine burst or cracked like an egg, others deflated, but a few formed frozen orbs with unique crystal-like patterns and shapes.
I shot hundreds of pictures of these unique creations. Some were cloudy globes with little texture, others had feathery ice that spread out and encased the entire bubble and a few had little stars.
These are a few of the things I have learned about frozen bubble making. The temperature needs to less than 20 degrees F. The bubbles are more likely to survive if they land on something soft. Laying a black or white cloth out the night before on a table also helps to provide that soft spot and a background to photograph the bubbles. Your bubble making solution should be chilled and refrigerated prior to trying to produce frozen bubbles. So it’s not a spur of the moment event. Blow the bubbles high into the air so that they have time to freeze as they drift downward.
Find an area that is sheltered from the wind. A slight breeze will send your bubbles off course. Depending on how cold it is, it may take the bubbles a few seconds to a few minutes to freeze. Last year, I noted that it took about 20 minutes for my bubbles to transform into the glass-like globes.
I wasn’t able to catch a morning with a significant snow for last year’s pictures. Last winter’s frozen bubble pictures were taken during a sleeting event. This winter, I have plans to produce frozen bubbles the next time we have a good snow. I think a mixture of snowflakes and these frozen beauties would be a whimsical and fantastic sight. The sun is the enemy of frozen bubbles. As soon as the sun’s warm rays hit the bubble they immediately collapse and melt away.
I tried blowing bubbles with the store-bought bubble solution and a homemade version. The homemade solution worked best for me. Here is the homemade bubble solution used:
1 1/2 cups of water
1/2 cup of dish soap
1/4 cup of white corn syrup (Karo).
As for photographing these beauties, my iPhone sometimes produced the best pictures. Get close; if your phone or camera has a macro setting try that. Don’t use flash because it will cause a nasty reflection in the bubble. Stabilize your camera to prevent motion blur.
Bubbles are always a hit no matter our age. It is lots of fun, if you can stand the cold. Kids will enjoy the cold weather activity, especially when the bubbles burst apart and slowly deflate. So when the weather man predicts an arctic blast of cold air is headed our way, get your bubble mixture ready and go discover the art of making frozen bubbles.