On a cold winter's day, you'll find Hope Carter on her front porch or back deck shooting a stunning sight. She'll wait until the conditions are just right, which means 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit and no wind, and then she'll blow a bubble. She'll quickly assess where the natural light is coming from, then, she'll snap away as beautiful ice crystal patterns form all over a bubble.
As she told us, “The ice crystals start forming immediately after the bubble is blown. Herein lies the challenge because as soon as you are done blowing the bubble, you must get back to your camera and focus in on where the crystals start forming in the bubble. Sometimes they form right in front of you, other times they start on the side, so you need to be able to reposition the camera quickly to catch the angle. They have a mind of their own and form where they please! I find this to be the most interesting phase, capturing them as soon as they start forming and watching them as they grow up the sides. Typically, this all happens anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes before the entire bubble is frozen over. Temperature is the ultimate determining factor – the colder it is, the faster the process.”
Carter enjoys the fact that no two bubbles are the same. While experimenting, she was surprised to find out how long a bubble can actually last. “Some pop right away, others sit frozen for over five minutes. I think the longest I've ever had a bubble remain intact was about seven minutes,” she said.
When we asked Hope to share some tips on capturing ice crystals on bubbles, she was happy to oblige. “Aside from no wind and an ideal temperature, patience is probably the biggest tip I can give anyone,” she said. “For me, this is not a five minute photo project, so if you're in a hurry I wouldn't recommend making the effort to set up your camera and then expect good results immediately. You need a block of time to be able to blow the bubbles, observe how the crystals form, watch where the light hits them and position your camera before you actually start taking photos.
“Having an idea of what is going to happen first will then help you when you actually go to take the shot.”
What does she like most about this project? “I like that it doesn't require an elaborate set-up or expensive gear. Bubble solution is pretty cheap, whether you buy it or make your own. Also, this project is suitable for anyone, age is not a limiting factor.”