Recently in Indianapolis, the city befell a cold spell not normally seen in this part of the world.  Late in January in Indianapolis, the temperature reached -11 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.  I say during the day because everybody knows its colder at night, but during the day, while the sun was out, the temperature read eleven (11) degrees below zero.  That was even in the Sun and this isn’t even to mention that it was -34 with the wind chill!  Other than stay inside like a normal person I opted to run to the grocery store to buy the proper supplies in order to do the photographer favorite of freezing bubbles.

Despite what seems like would be an easy task freezing bubbles was in fact not as such.  Some photographers I know opted to get the standard bubble mix from the local Dollar store.  I, however, knew that I did not want to blow bubbles, but would have more luck photographically by being able to “place” them.  So after some reading online about bubbles and practicing in the kitchen with my homemade liquid stuff, I concepted a shot.  A shot that included stealing some flowers that I bought for my exceptionally patient wife to do. (Patient because who in their right mind goes outside on a day that’s -11 to make pictures?  and who steals flowers that were a gift?)

Right so if you are going to be handling C Stands that you store in your garage when it’s -11 outside wear gloves.  Not saying, Just saying.  Darn, my hands got cold fast.  The concept was simple.  I wanted to freeze a bubble outside onto the top of a flower showing both the flower petals and also the crystals forming in the bubble itself.  Awesome plan.  This is my setup shot outside including my Benro heavy duty tripod, and ELB500.  Both of which worked flawlessly with my Nikon Z7 and Sigma 24-70F2.8 in the -11 degree temperatures.  (My first attempt shown below started with my D850 but I used the Z7 for all of the later attempts.) 

This was the scene 30 minutes later, notice the flowers are gone already:

Obviously, things did not go well. At this point, I was also so cold that I didn’t clean off the C stands and A clamps I used to string up the flowers in favor of just putting them on the floor in the garage.  Nor did I clean up the table that was filled with a soapy snow type film.  I felt defeated, but not out yet.  My biggest issue was that I was blowing bubbles through a large milkshake straw, but they weren’t forming very easily or sticking to anything without the bubble popping.   I decided my “bubble mix” wasn’t thick enough to make the big meaty bubble I was looking for and wanted to thicken it up a bit with a bit of a chemistry change. (I know in theory thinner bubbles would freeze faster, but I wanted them to be able to withstand a bit of wind!)

That was an interesting first start, but this one was much better, and also the last one I made from my earlier daytime attempts.

That’s the final ingredient mix adapted from several internet searches to my particular needs/bubble blowing abilities.  It ended up being :

1 shot glass of Dish Soap (for bubbles)

1 shot glass of Corn Syrup,  (for thickness) NOT STARCH

1/4 coffee cup (100mm or so) of water (for FREEZING)

and 1 tablespoon of sugar. (for dope crystals).

I settled on this mix after a few different tries and settled on shot glass measurements because cleaning the Corn Syrup and dish soap out of the measuring cup got to be quite the chore.  I digress. This mixture of stuff in the freezer for a bit before getting started worked exactly as I had hoped.  It allowed me to use a big milkshake straw to blow a nice big bubble onto something one at a time one after the next.  The ones that didn’t pop immediately were easily shieldable from the little bit of wind with my (this time gloved) hands.  I didn’t take all the time to get out the C Stands and ELB500 by the time I figured out exactly how the mixture would work best. but a Phottix Mitros+ did the heavy lifting just fine with it being nighttime out.

Final shot was with the Nikon Z7, Sigma 24-70F2.8Art @70mm. 1/200th@F8.  Phottix Mitros+ opposite of the leaf and bubble set to 1/32nd triggered by a Phottix ODIN2 transmitter on the Z7 Hot Shoe. 

There you have it.  Hopefully this helps if you ever get a bug to freeze some bubbles.  It was quite the trail that afternoon, and I didn’t get anything else done, but gosh I am pleased with a few of the frames.  That’s all a photographer can ask for on a cold day right?  More Soon.