When it’s cold out, freeze some soap bubbles

When I got up this morning it was -12 degrees outside my house in Woodstock, VT. I don’t care where you are from, that is cold. The way I can usually tell if it is really cold is if my mustache freezes when I breathe and it was only about four steps from the door and I could feel the ice.

Since it was so cold I thought it would be a good time to blow some soap bubbles, watch them freeze and photograph them. I have to admit it wasn’t a first-thing-in-the-morning decision. I knew it was going to be this cold today so I planned ahead. It isn’t easy to find the little bottles of kids’ soap bubbles mid-winter in Vermont but I found some at a dollar store in Rutland yesterday. I had told my friend Lisa Lacasse I was going to try it and she wanted to join me. She had done it before but is always up for something different.

I did a little research and learned that adding corn starch and sugar to dish washing detergent makes stronger bubbles that the fun stuff in the bottle, so I made a few different concoctions of varying strengths. After making the photos, I don’t know that it mattered at all.

Lisa got her bright and early while it was still at least -10 outside. The wind was blowing pretty strong so we went into my unheated garage and set up a little studio.

The tricky part is not breaking the bubble before it freezes. Most of the bubbles broke right away but I got pretty good at making them hang around for a while. And then after one freezes it tends to slowly collapse within itself, so the photos had to be shot fast if I wanted the full bubble.

I used two flashes to light up the bubble and/or the background and a 100mm macro lens on my camera. For some of the shots I put a colored gel over the flash, trying to make either the bubble or the background colorful. It worked pretty and we shot for almost two hours before the cold said it was time to get inside.

Lisa hit the road and I looked at one of drinking glasses I used to mix the soap and corn starch. It was just starting to freeze up and was making some great crystal designs on the side of the glass. I hadn’t put my gear away so I tried a few more shots. I used one flash to illuminate the frosty glass and another to light some colored material I put in the background.

The weird thing is I spent almost three hours in -10 degree weather hoping to get great shots of frozen bubbles and my favorite picture is of the freezing glass.

Click on a photo below to see a larger version.

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