Vertical Bubbles, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2014, photos © 2014 by Liz anne schultz. All rights reserved.
The -22°F drop in air temperature in the Twin Cities this week closed schools and businesses, persuading most of us to stay inside and curl up with a good book. But after seeing the images of photographer Angela Kelly, Liz was inspired to mix up a concoction of soap bubbles, strap her Sony NEX around her neck, and head out into the cold.
I was recruited to blow bubbles, while she chased them around the deck, hoping to grab a quick shot before they flew over the roof and collapsed into tinkling ice crystals. It was -9°F with wind gusts dropping the chill to -30°F below. Liz’s camera even froze up a few times. Yet with everything that was going on around us, she captured a sense of stillness and serenity in these photographs.
Red Dual Bubble, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2014, photos © 2014 by Liz anne schultz. All rights reserved.
After we were back inside, warming our bones in front of the heater, we read up on the details of blowing bubbles in freezing temperatures. Here is what we learned:
1) For the best frozen bubbles, add corn syrup to thicken the water base and increase the surface tension. It is surface tension that allows the solution to form a bubble. Use the ratio of ingredients below. Then mix and let cool.
1 part dish soap
1 part corn syrup
6 parts hot water
2) Use a bubble wand, instead of your breath.
A bubble is formed by a layer of water molecules trapped between two fine layers of soap molecules. When it is very cold, and the bubble wand is waved slowly, the water layer freezes before the bubble can burst. By contrast, if you make a bubble by blowing into the wand, the bubble takes more time to set because the air in the bubble has been warmed by your lungs. When this warm air comes into contact with cold air it contracts, and the surface of the bubble sets more slowly.
3) It’s natural for frozen bubbles to collapse into themselves.
The layers of soap freeze, making the walls of the bubble more solid. After a few seconds, the air captured inside the bubble disperses to the exterior, like a balloon deflating, and the wall of ice collapses under its own weight leaving what looks like a broken eggshell.
Green Frost Bubble, Caving Bubble, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
January 2014, photos © 2014 by Liz anne schultz.
All rights reserved.
We are counting on Minnesota to produce another round of sub-zero temperatures (and less wind) so we have a chance to practice more frozen bubble photography before spring.
-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, January 8th, 2014, with gratitude to Angela Kelly for the inspiration
-Resources: Science Fun In The Snow – Try This Out – Frozen Bubbles, Angela Kelly’s website: Kelly Images & Photography: Acclaim for the “Frozen in a Bubble Series”