Thursday, February 25, 2021

Quarantine Creativity – Frozen Bubble Photography


(Submitted by Jennifer Gilbert). Some time ago, a friend of mine photographed some frozen bubbles, and I was immediately interested in trying this out. I finally got around to doing it this weekend (it takes a lot to get me out in the cold), and I thought I shared with you what I’ve learned!

  1. It needs to be -10 C or lower in order for the bubbles to freeze. The colder, the better.
  2. Extreme patience is required, and the wind needs to be calm.
  3. There’s no “perfect” bubble recipe, and I’ve shared the ones I used below.
  4. Glycerin is hard to find, but corn syrup works as well.
  5. It’s helpful to have a tripod and intervalometer timer/remote system, or someone who is very patient to come outside with you. 
  6. You have to be very gentle while blowing the mixture out of the straw. Also, the bubbles are extremely delicate. They often pop on contact.

My first attempt on Thursday was with my 24-70 lens, set at f/2.8, ISO 100, and was literally me blowing the bubble and then quickly focusing the camera to get the shot. I really liked the crystallization effect on this bubble. It was -14 C outside and sunny.

snow winter bubble

4 cups of water
1 cup of Dawn dish soap
1/4 cup of corn syrup

Stir well and let sit fo 24 hours.

Note: this makes a huge batch of solution. You can do some math and make a quarter batch instead.

My second attempt today was a different bubble solution. I also had my camera on a tripod, using the timer and my 70-200mm lens set at f/2.8, ISO 100.

I’m not sure if it was the recipe or the weather, but I did notice a significant difference when I changed recipes. It was -11 C outside. Also, it was overcast instead of sunny like on day 1.


frozen snow bubble

200ml warm water
35ml corn syrup
35ml Dawn dish soap
2 tbsp white sugar

Stir well and place mixture in freezer to cool for a few minutes (or just take it outside while you bundle up).

Both turned out beautifully, but I prefer the way bubble #1 crystallized over #2. For both images, I brought them into Lightroom to colour correct and sharpen. Then, I moved them over to photoshop for some finishing touches and some extra sharpening.

Using the intervalometer timer I told you about earlier, I was able to get images of myself blowing the bubbles and even one popping, which was pretty cool in itself.

Here are the “bubble out-takes”:

winter snow


soap bubble

soap bubble winter


Here’s some tips for getting a great shot:

DLSR users:

  • Make sure your lens is set on it’s lowest aperture (the f stop number). If it’s a zoom lens, zoom it in as far as it will zoom to help create that creamy background.
  • You can use Av or A mode so that the aperture will stay the same, but the camera will adjust the shutter speed.
  • If you have a tripod, use it as it will ensure the camera stays in the same spot. Be sure to focus the camera on a single area, and blow the bubble in that same area. I used the straw to set my focus.
  • Make sure your flash is turned off.
  • Have someone else blow the bubbles if you don’t have a timer.

Smartphone users:

  • You will need two people unless you have a phone tripod.
  • Try using portrait mode to create a blurred background.
  • Put the phone as close to the bubble as possible and use the straw as your focus point. Tap the screen to focus. You may need to refocus for each bubble.
  • Act quickly! The bubbles won’t last long.
  • Once you’ve got a photo you like, you’ll have to do some editing to increase the exposure and warmth. Cameras don’t “see” white very well, and your image will look a bit grey.

I would love to see your creations if you decide to give this a try! Post them on your Instagram story and tag me – @jengphotog. I’d be happy to share them on my story! Let’s have some fun during this quarantine!

Jennifer is Nationally Accredited in Child/Infant Portraits as well as Environmental Family Portraits. Her business can be found at Jennifer Gilbert Photography. She is currently the National Director for the Ontario Region of the PPOC. She currently offers her Photography Services in the Tottenham and Simcoe County areas.




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