This is what froth below a local waterfall looks like when it freezes.
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 200 mm
1/40 sec, f/11.0, ISO 200
“Whenever there is stillness there is the still small voice, God’s speaking from the whirlwind, nature’s old song, and dance…”
― Annie Dillard
Chilly water flows beneath icicles formed by the spray of the creek below. I found this to be an odd sight. April in my area has been ‘confusing’. We had beautiful sunshine and mild temperatures, followed by a deep freeze, snow, freezing rain, and strong winds, all within a few days. This has made it difficult to get out and enjoy the outdoors.
This small chute is located just below the Whitevale dam, north of Pickering, Ontario. It has become a fairly regular destination for me over the past few years. Primarily because I’m drawn to moving water and the serenity I find there, even as the water surges and churns over the rocks below the dam. It’s here that I make many of my winter photos of water flowing beneath the ice, or frozen in great icicles at the dam itself.
In this case, I found a lovely composition created by the tight combination of mist and air temperature. The moderately cold night had created conditions whereby spray from the water had splashed onto an overhanging branch and slowly frozen into these delicate icicle. There was no wind, which provided me an opportunity to do a long exposure, which showed off the icicles and allowed me to put the water in the background into motion, as contrast between stillness and movement. Very much how I feel when I’m at the waterside.
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 135 mm
1/10 sec, f/20.0, ISO 200
“What is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?”
― Kahlil Gibran
This year, I left a few dried hydrangea blooms in my garden. My usual ritual is to trim them all down in the fall. I’m glad I left them, they added some interest in this past, dull, nearly snowless winter, and created a nice franewirk for our recent freezing rain event.
For those who have never experienced freezing rain, I’ll include a brief description here:
Freezing rain occurs when the ground temperature is below freezing while the air layers above are warmer. The precipitation falls as rain and freezes on contact with the ground. The end effect is that everything is coated with an ever increasing layer of clear ice. If conditions are right, this accumulation can be over an inch thick and cause major damage to trees and powerlines. Because it is a gradual accumulation, delicate plants, which would collapse in snow, are held rigid by the ice that encases them.
This was the case with the hydrangeas pictured above. A thin coating of clear ice built up over a period of a few hours, making them look like the are coated in clear glass.
It’s a beautiful effect, unless you are driving and have to chisel the ice from your car, or try to walk, since the ice is usually covered in a thin layer of semi-frozen water, making it extremely slippery. This is not a good feature when you are trying to walk around with your camera. The other thing with freezing rain is that it tends to be a very brief, beautiful event, which generally melts away within a few hours, as the temperatures rise.
I find it to be a challenging time photographically, since everything is beautiful and it’s difficult to isolate a particular composition within all that beauty.
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 130 mm
1/250 sec, f/8.0 -0.33, ISO 200
“How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.”
― Elizabeth Lesser
I was considering numerous titles for this images. There is a lot happening here. I was considering “Transitions”, “Undercurrent”, and “Headlong”, but the title that stuck was “Junction”. In this image, there is a junction of two clear and distinct parts of the same creek. To the left, brownish water, tinted from sediment from the creek bed, and to the right, cool, blue-white melt-water, flowing quickly over sheets of ice on the still frozen bottom.
As I reflect back to the quote, there is an inevitable change: the water must flow forward, from one zone to the next. The creek is meant to flow, and not be locked in ice forever. It must flow, or it’s a sheet of ice and not a creek.
It’s interesting also, to note, that this junction is not smooth, it’s jagged, because of the nature of the ice, the creekbed, and the overall flow of the water. A straight line transition would seem unnatural and would certainly not have gotten my attention like this intricate “zigzag” zone.
The change of seasons creates some interesting times, all of which I look forward to, knowing that everything in nature is temporary and will eventually repeat the cycle. No two scenes are quite the same twice and I can be there to bear witness that small moment in time where things are just as they are, before the next junction.
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 98 mm
1/8 sec, f/32.0, ISO 250
“We gaze continually at the world and it grows dull in our perceptions. Yet seen from another’s vantage point, as if new, it may still take the breath away.”
― Alan Moore
Winter wears on, some days are bright and clear and others dark and dreary. Yet, through it all, nature lives on and builds crystal sculptures on frames of wood, grass, and stone. At the right time of day, the sun shines through, lighting them from within.
The image above is a lilac tree next to my house. With the rapid melt, the eavestroughs overflowed, splashing water on the cold lilacs in the shade. That slight difference in temperature was enough to re-freeze the water, encasing the slender branches and seed heads with a thick coat of ice. Water running over this base formed ripples which froze as subsequent layers. The effects of a slight breeze are also visible in the slightly bent ‘fingers’ of ice.
As a side note, though it was warm enough to melt the ice, the temperatures were cool enough to give me frozen fingers of my own.
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 120mm
1/250 sec, f/8.0, ISO 250
Elegant in it’s simplicity?
Apparently, someone had been throwing rocks onto the ice, hoping for a breakthrough? I returned a few days later to find dozens of rocks littering the ice surface. It turns out that the frost pushed them from an adjacent cliff and the rolled across the ice, coming to rest some distance from their source. Things are not always as they seem. Perhaps this situation is a combination of both potential reasons?
I came across several of these larger rocks frozen to the surface of Duffins Creek a few days ago. The simplicity of the rock isolated on the ice made for a nice composition and the light that day was wonderful. You can see all the detail in the rock and a bit of blue sky reflected in the ice. If you look carefully, you can see some of the riverbed through the somewhat milky ice as well.
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm
1/250 sec, f/8.0, ISO 250
The title is a bit misleading, as the water is not frozen. I took the word frequencies from the delicate ripples in the water and the effect they had on the reflection. The image is actually inverted and I was debating leaving it that way. However, the composition I was envisioning is better communicated this way. You can see a little hint of the shoreline, still coated in ice and snow. The photo was best expressed in black and white with a slight Selenium toning to cool it down.
It has been a different winter here in Southern Ontario, Canada. It’s early February and there is little snow, days are moderate and most water bodies have at least some open water. Secord Pond, where this image was made, had a thin coating of ice, the remnant of a few colder weeks, but that’s changing too and a large patch of open water is now expanding.
This season has been a bit different for my photographically as well. Generally, I’d be out and about on snowshoes, making photos of snow covered pines and frosty landscapes, compensating for the bright reflection of snow and ice as I compose my images. While there is still some snow and ice, it’s patchy and the light soft and almost warm. It is becoming a learning experience, making non typical photos in a non typical winter.
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 145mm
1/160 sec, f/6.3 -0.33, ISO 250
A challenging composition. Part of the ‘trick’ to capturing the motion of water is to create a time exposure based on the speed of the water and the light available. I tend to do most of these earlier in the day, or late afternoon, when the sun is soft and indirect.
Last week I found myself, mid-day, looking at these wonderful scenes of water rushing past icy shores and trying to figure out how to take this home with me in photos. The challenge is being able to leave the shutter open long enough to create the nice motion blur without overexposing the snow and ice and losing all that texture. The additional challenge on this day was that I did not have a tripod with me and had to shoot hand-held at 1/8 seconds to get the effect I wanted and I force myself to shoot at 250 ISO as much as possible, to retain the ability to shoot as if I was using film.
I seem to have accomplished that in this photo and a few others I posted earlier. The water moves smoothly across the frame, the dappled sunlight reflects off the surface and lights up some of the rocks below the surface, yet you can still make out the details of the icicles and layers of snow along the shore. It was a wonderful feeling when I got home and saw the results of this outing.
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 135mm
1/8 sec, f/32.0 -0.33, ISO 250
I have to admit that I have been to these falls many times over the past few years, but never in winter. The falls are the result of a dam being build to keep and introduced species of trout from migrating too far upstream and eating the eggs of the native brown trout. I’ve posted a few photos of this dam in the past.
The winter scene is beautiful, especially in the right light, which I was blessed with on this visit. It has been particularly cold over the past few weeks, which created a substantial buildup of ice to almost the height of the dam, which is about 5 meters. If you look carefully at the top of the photo you can also see the water coming from under the ice covered pond above the dam
The light plays nicely through the columns of ice and I decided to challenge myself with a long exposure. The results are very satisfying.
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @82mm
1/8 sec, f/32, ISO 250