Crafty Cana­di­ans

Cre­at­ing beau­ti­ful bub­bles of ice and cap­tur­ing them in pho­to­graphs makes for a mag­i­cal win­ter pas­time

Our Canada - - Contents - By Cather­ine Hamil­ton, Ana­gance, N. B.

Liv­ing in a small, ru­ral com­mu­nity just out­side Petit­co­diac, N.B., the win­ter days can some­times be long and quiet. So, for about four years now, I have com­bined two of my favourite things, pho­tog­ra­phy and blow­ing bub­bles. I love bub­bles and am fas­ci­nated by the swirling colours and re­flec­tions in­side them. I wanted to try pho­tograph­ing them while they were in the process of freez­ing. As they freeze, you see de­signs start to form im­me­di­ately as they swirl and dance around. This is caused by a thin layer of wa­ter be­tween two lay­ers of soapy wa­ter. It is the mid­dle layer that freezes, so it turns to ice in­side the soapy lay­ers. The bub­bles only last for about 40 sec­onds or so be­fore burst­ing.

I start the process by mak­ing my bub­ble mix­ture us­ing wa­ter, dish soap and corn syrup. The corn syrup is added to give the bub­bles ex­tra sta­bil­ity. I don’t have an ex­act recipe, I just add some of each into a con­tainer and find it works best if made a day or two in ad­vance. I won­der if that’s why I get such a vari­a­tion in my bub­bles, as my mix­ture is dif­fer­ent ev­ery time.

I wait for a day with a tem­per­a­ture of at least - 10° C, but I find that - 15° C to - 20° C works best for me. Vary­ing tem­per­a­tures make a dif­fer­ence in the de­signs you will achieve.

Once the per­fect win­ter day ar­rives, equipped with my bub­ble so­lu­tion, cam­era, macro lens and a plas­tic drink­ing straw— or mul­ti­ple straws held to­gether with an elas­tic band for blow­ing sev­eral bub­bles at once—out into the cold I go. I usu­ally take pho­tos just hold­ing my cam­era, as op­posed to us­ing a tri­pod, which gives me the flex­i­bil­ity to get the an­gles I de­sire. Be­cause the bub­bles don’t last long, and the de­signs change very quickly, you

have to take mul­ti­ple shots in or­der to get the ones you like dur­ing the dif­fer­ent stages of freez­ing.

Tak­ing your straw, you dip it in the so­lu­tion and blow a bub­ble in the lo­ca­tion you want it; it can be on the snow or on a tree branch, or maybe you want the sun­set be­hind it for a beau­ti­ful or­ange glow. The bub­bles can be placed pretty much any­where; I have even used a real flower. Your imag­i­na­tion is the only limit.

For a cou­ple of years, I only cre­ated my frozen bub­bles dur­ing the day. I was de­lighted with my fan­tas­tic cre­ations of mag­i­cal bub­bles of ice but wanted more. So, with the help of mul­ti­ple flash­lights, coloured fil­ters and bub­ble so­lu­tion, I ven­tured out into the dark­ness of night to see what I could cre­ate. I had to take breaks to go in­side to get warm be­tween takes! Even­tu­ally, pa­tience com­bined with prac­tis­ing us­ing dif­fer­ent an­gles with my cam­era and flash­lights re­sulted in the ef­fect I wanted. I no­ticed that the black­ness be­hind the bub­bles re­ally made them pop off the screen. I was so ex­cited to be get­ting im­ages I truly loved.

This is some­thing that any­one can do. Just dress warmly, head out­side on those cold, frigid days, blow bub­bles and watch the magic hap­pen— but be warned, it can be very ad­dic­tive! n

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