Sunday, February 24, 2019

Frozen Flowers

Over the last few weeks, I have been working on photographing flowers frozen in water. I have tried this before with varying degrees of success but really wanted to devote some time to it this winter. I have found a method that works well for me and am happy to share some tips with you.

First, find a suitable container. Some people choose glass, I tried that as well as metal tins and plastic containers and found no difference. I knew I would not be shooting through the sides of the container, so glass was not a necessity, use what you have. I used some small containers for single large flowers and groups of smaller blossoms, and larger tins for bigger groups of flowers. Even a cut-off milk jug will work.

Collect some flower blossoms and trim the stems to fit the container you have chosen. The beauty of freezing the flowers is that you don't have to use pristine blossoms, I used both fresh and spent flowers and both worked well. I had better results with larger flowers.

Place the flowers in the container and add a little bit of water, you can place them with the blossoms up or stems up, or even sideways. The flowers will float if you add too much water, you really just want enough for the flowers to adhere and stop moving in the beginning, 1/2-1 inch is enough. Once you have added the small amount of water, place the container in the freezer. Here in Maine, I can place the containers outside to freeze when I run out of freezer space.

Check the progress after a few hours and add more water. Don't add too much at once or your slim ice layer will melt with the added water and the flowers will float free, it is better to keep adding frequent small amounts at a time until the flowers are covered with water. Sometimes I like to leave a few petals above the water/ice line for added interest in the photos.

 It is always a surprise to see how the flowers look when frozen, no two look the same! I generally photograph them in the container first, shooting straight down with my lens parallel to the surface of the ice. I place the focus on any petals above the ice, and use an aperture of f/11-f/16. I use natural light, and have made photos with my 180mm, my Lensbaby Velvet 85 and my iPhone.

Once I am happy with the photos I made shooting straight down at the flower, I place the container upside down in a warmer location so that the ice will loosen (you could also run the container under warm water).  I remove the container and check the bottom and all sides of the ice block for interesting effects and make more photos from those angles. Shooting the ice block with backlighting works well too.

It's also interesting to photograph the flowers as the ice forms and/or begins to melt away, here are a couple I left outside overnight:

I found that some flowers turned brown when frozen, and some retained their natural colors. If you are unhappy with the color of the flower in ice, you can always convert to black and white or add a color tint as I did with this one:

I feel like I am only beginning with this technique and look forward to more experimentation and exploration, I have a full pan of red roses almost ready to shoot in my freezer right now so stay tuned.

Happy Shooting!


  1. Thank you, Kathleen! I played around a little with frozen flowers this winter inspired by you! Love that you shared your techniques!

  2. Absolutely gorgeous. Even though I am a novice (AT BEST), I'm going to try this with my Lensbaby Velvet 85. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and unbelievable talent.

  3. Very interesting. Your results are uniquely compelling. I am going to have to give this a go. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Thnank you Kathleen for sharing your ideas with us!

  5. Thanks for the tips. I have some flowers I froze...hmmm maybe last spring and never got out to photograph. You inspire me to do just that as we are about to be snowed in for a week (a rare event in our green and rainy Willamette Valley).

  6. What fun! I have some in freezer now!

  7. This looks so fun. I have some flowers I bought the other day. Shooting them tomorrow so will try out your technique after that. Thanks for sharing Kathleen!

  8. Great idea. Might have to try that, if I can find some room in my freezer.

  9. This is a fabulously creative blog and a gift! Thank you, Kathleen.

  10. Thank you Kathleen for the great inspiration. I came home from my mothers funeral with a huge bouquet of flowers. Now I can play with a new technique and have some very special photos to honor my mom.

    1. Sorry for your loss Terri but sounds like a wonderful idea.

  11. Excellent work, really love your creativity and ideas, will have to have a stab at this myself!

  12. Thanks for sharing! Great ideas, beautiful photos!

  13. Ii can’t wait to try this effect. You always inspire. Thank you.