Blooming Ice

Freezing bubbles in the winter cold is magical, but what happens when you place a swirling freezing orb of ice on a flower? Magic. View large!

This freezing bubble is delicately placed in the center of a Gerbera Daisy, something definitely out of place in the winter landscape but also something that adds a lot of life to the image. Initial experiments were with roses, but they didn’t look quite as good. It’s a concept I’ll revisit, but for now the daisy wins as most successful experiment. The radial petals also allows me to carefully place one petal below the main arrangement to fill in the gap between the other petals and the snow.

At first, the bubble wouldn’t freeze. The flower has too much radiant heat from being inside that I couldn’t get anything like this to show up. After leaving the flower outside for about 15 minutes, the bubbles began to behave properly. After about an hour or so in the cold, the flower was beginning to wilt and fade, so there is a window of time you need to work in. Roses tend to last much longer, which gives me even more ideas to explore there.

The image is lit with two flashlights. One light is very directional and aimed at a distance to beam through the bubble, which creates a very pleasing backlit glowing feel. A second flashlight of equal brightness was placed close by, illuminating the underside of the flower which in turn reflected light back down onto the snow. A solid 20-30 minutes was spent using flashes, continuous flashlights, combinations of both, and in all different positions to get the lighting feel you see here. I would let one bubble freeze solid as a “prop” for me to preview my lighting arrangement, and then blow a fresh bubble when everything was in place.

In the end, we have a flower emerging from the snow to give birth to hundreds of snowflake-like specks of frost on a winter night. It’s not how real snowflakes are born, but it’s a fun way to imagine it.

If you enjoy my winter macro photography, you’ll love my book Sky Crystals: www.skycrystals.ca/book/ – it details everything you could ever want to know about snowflakes and extreme macro photography related to photographing them. While it’s focused on the skyborne crystals and not the ones we make here on earth, it’s still a great read for anyone with a macro lens in the winter!

click image for larger version