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Balancing Act | by Don Komarechka
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Balancing Act

With a blast of freezing temperatures come certain opportunities – freezing soap bubbles are a fun subject, and you can stage them in dynamic ways! This a soap bubble in the process of freezing solid, perched on an iris. I’ve always thought that the three sets of petals would make for an interesting design to hold a crystal ball of sorts, so I brought that idea to life here.


First, you need temperatures at -8C / 18F or colder, with absolutely no wind. Second, you need a bubble mix that resists popping on contact surfaces – and that mix is:

6 parts water

2 parts dish soap

1 part white corn syrup.

It’s the white corn syrup that pools at the bottom of a bubble and acts like a cushion. Even still, many bubbles pop. In fact, with multiple distinct points of contact like we’re seeing here, I was only ever able to get the first bubble placed to stay intact. Every other bubble I attempt to place in the same location popped immediately. Glad I got at least one for the 20 minutes of trying in considerably sub-zero weather!


To be clear, I placed the iris outside in advance so it could acclimate to the outside temperature, freezing solid although it doesn’t appear any different than it did indoors. If I were to bring the flower back inside it would almost immediately turn into a goopy blob, as the cold temps destroyed all the cells in the flower.


The flower is backlit by a bright LED flashlight (I’m really liking the NiteCore TM03 CRI for a lot of macro work: ), positioned almost directly behind the flower but just a bit higher so that the light source isn’t in the frame. Shooting with a continuous burst while handholding the camera, it’s easy to sway forward and back a little to get the focus and framing exactly as you want it.


Freezing bubbles are tricky because of their depth – you want some crispness to the outer edge but also the front crystals to be sharp. To get a good amount of depth here, this was shot with the Lumix S1R and the 24-105 F/4 kit lens at F/16, but with a wider frame. I was intentionally farther away from my subject know that I had plenty of resolution to crop in with. The further away you are from your subject, the greater your depth of field, giving me the best of both resolution and depth. :) The flexibility of having a rock-solid high-resolution camera cannot be understated, it allows for all sorts of limit-pushing tricks!

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Taken on April 18, 2019