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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sighting of a UFO - Unidentified Frozen Object

This is not your typical UFO sighting. In fact, I created it by blowing bubbles when the temperature was about 4° F. I got the idea on Facebook when a friend posted some images by photographer Angela Kelly.

UFO - unidentified frozen object
1/200s f/5.6 @ 85mm ISO 100 

Blowing bubbles is easy, but getting one to freeze in midair requires just the right conditions, which in eastern North Carolina, doesn't come around very often. First, it has to be cold enough. Not just freezing...well below freezing. With no instructions I went out on the snow covered morning of January 30th with my camera, homemade bubble solution and wand. But really how hard can it be? More than you might think.

To start I needed to figure out my camera settings. I had to shoot a moving(or in this case floating) object that was fairly small and transparent against either a clear blue sky or dark contrasting background. This would require shooting in the high-speed continuous mode, using auto focus, a fast shutter speed and lots of practice.

What proved to be most challenging was selecting a bubble and chasing after it to get a close up view. I wanted the bubble to the the focal point not a small subject lost in the background. It needed to be in the right place plus be afloat long enough to freeze. Many of my bubbles drop quickly or floated too far away. Others I shot were out of focus.

Floating away
1/400s f/5.6 @ 85mm ISO 100

Despite the fact it was really cold outside, some of the bubbles didn't freeze before reaching the ground. If the temperature is just below 32° F, you likely won't get the "frosty effect".  As with all aspects of photography, lighting is critical. On a sunny day you get a nice refraction off the surface of the bubble resulting in a cool rainbow effect. Calm winds will keep the bubbles from blowing away or bursting quickly. Also using a polarizing filter helps enhance the sky to a nice blue(provided you use it at the right angle).

Polarized sky
1/160s f/5.6 @ 80mm ISO 200

Refraction of sunlight makes for rainbow effect
1/200s f/5.6 @ 85mm ISO 100

Persistence did pay off. After I can't tell you how many bubbles, I finally got what I was after....frosty bubbles.

A frosty "full moon"

Bubble balanced on a twig

How to make UFO's:

  • Bubble solution and wand. Here's how to make your own. I didn't
    have glycerine so I used corn syrup.
  • For best results try it when the air temps are below 25° F.
  • Go outside just after sunrise when the wind is still and the
    lighting is soft.
  • Keep shooting.

So the next time you have a frigid morning, go out with your camera and shoot some UFOs.


Light is the first element of creation.

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All images and content are Copyrighted © Kelvin Taylor

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