I am thrilled to share the news that another of my entries into the International Garden Photographer of the year has been placed 3rd in its category - The Beauty of plants. Last year I was able to get around a couple of local nature reserves fairly easily on my mobility scooter and immersed myself in an old hobby of mine - looking for and learning about mushrooms. This was made easier due to a few other people visiting the same main park almost daily also looking for new mushroom species and sharing finds on a social media group, we were able to all connect and direct each other to our new finds meaning we could all see so much more. I was lucky that these lovely new friends would let me know where there were varieties that were easily accessible for me and one even brought me a specimen that I had never seen before but I could not access - which we transplanted in an accessible spot nearby( other specimens were left in tact in situ). There was an abundance of mushrooms this year and this Fly agaric caught my eye with its fairy tale like appearance - I was easily seeing from 10 to 50 Fly agarics at a time and that was just within a few ft of the path, there must have been loads further into the woods.
I have wanted to try photographing bubbles freezing for years but either conditions have not been right or I have been unable to get out or didnt have access to a suitable outdoor space to try this. This week conditions finally provided me with the perfect opportunity - minus 4, little to no wind and a lovely sunrise to help with light plus snow. I was able to sit/kneel on our garden bench and use another platform covered in snow to blow bubbles on. Resting my camera on a steady surface helped a fair bit too. I used a Sony 90mm macro lens for these and shot mostly at F18 trying to get the whole bubble in focus - trickier that it seems with low light and then sun streaming through the bubbles at I attempted to catch the sunrise too. Next time I try this I will use a longer lens and photograph from further away. I compensated by trying to blow small bubbles once I noticed many weren't fully in focus.
I used a mixture of two parts washing up liquid, 6 parts water, 1 part glycerine and a tablespoon of sugar. Dissolve sugar and glycerine in warm water first then add the washing up liquid - try to avoid over stirring and getting bubbles on the top as this can affect your bubbles. Place in fridge or outside to cool. Apparently these work best at temperatures below minus 4 - some say minus 10. I used a straw, took deep breaths of cold air and slowly blew bubbles. This was only my first attempt so they’re not perfect and I can already think of ways to improve. Best done when there is no wind. The colder it is the quicker the bubbles freeze so it can be handy having someone blowing the bubbles for you whilst you concentrate on photographing the quickly. Although once temperatures are around minus 1-2 it was taking a couple of minutes to freeze.
I found this a great lockdown photography project and a perfect excuse to play like a big kid in the snow :) I would love to see your frozen bubble pics in the comments - do feel free to share your tips for others too. Have fun playing.
I am looking forward to trying this again as I have a few creative ideas I would like to try, I can see it being a regular winter activity Many of the bubbles will burst so perseverance is necessary - just keep trying. There are a few different recipes for bubble mixtures out there if you google them - many include ingredients such as corn syrup or glycerine to help the bubbles last longer and sugar to help crystalize. It is important to prepare the mixture in advance and cool it to give yourself a higher success rate, so keeping a batch ready in your fridge is handy.