Those of you who have been around this blog for a while probably know about my obsession with photographing ice bubbles. I don’t understand all the intricacies of how those bubbles are created, but I think there are at least two forces in play. One is the release of methane and other gases as decomposition occurs underwater. More importantly, I think, those gases are forced out of water as it freezes and have to accumulate someplace. Since ice forms from the water’s surface downward, that gas can’t escape upward, so it is forced into spaces within the water itself – forming bubbles.
Regardless of how they’re formed, I can spend hours exploring a frozen wetland or other water body searching for those gorgeous and entrancing bubbles!
On Monday morning of this week, I went to my favorite restored wetland at the Platte River Prairies, hoping to find some fun ice patterns to photograph. It had gotten very cool very quickly, and that often creates some of the best conditions for ice bubbles. What I found was far better than I’d expected. Not only were there the kind of small bubbles I’m used to (dime and quarter-sized and smaller), there were also much bigger bubbles – up to a foot or more in diameter. I’m assuming that was linked to how quickly the water froze, but that’s just a guess. Either way, it was spectacular!
I spent a couple hours wandering around about half an acre of wetland trying to figure out how to capture what I was seeing and share it. Wide angle lenses seemed to work best, and my fisheye did the best job of showing the depth and layering of the bubbles. What you can’t see in these photos, though, is how clear the water was. As I walked around, I could see the bottom of the wetland below me (about a foot deep or less in most places) and I even chased a small fish around for a short time.
I went out to the same wetland spot yesterday afternoon and shot a few thousand more photos. I’m still working those up but will certainly have more to share next week (or before). The ice had changed some between Monday and Thursday, and the big bubbles were less distinct, but there was still plenty to keep me engaged. Both on Monday and Thursday, ice bubbles were only one component of the frozen beauty of the site.
It’s supposed to warm up this weekend, so I might have to wait a while before I can shoot more ice bubbles. That’s probably ok. I have plenty of photos from this week to keep me busy for a while…