Arresting Motion…or…Frozen Solid

Today’s post has nothing to do with the science involved in the act of the freezing of moving water.  It has a little bit to do with the act of photographing that frozen water, and everything to do with celebrating the visual result of that phenomenon.  All of the images below, except the wave picture, were originally made on film, and then copied with my digital camera.

When water freezes it makes for good pictures.  When moving water freezes it makes for great pictures.

Ice will form over calm water at 32 degrees F.  Even if the water is deep, it will still freeze at 32, it will just take a bit longer to get the surface water to that temperature.  When water that is in constant motion, freezes, you know it is cold.

There is little that stirs the photographer inside of me more than a frozen waterfall. I have chased this subject with both failure and success.  I have been stuck in the snow (briefly) in remote locations, all because I wanted to photograph frozen waterfalls.

Often there is a sudsy pool at the bottom of a waterfall.  The ice that forms there is usually snow like in its coloration.  That can make for some exposure challenges.  If that ice ( or snow) causes an exposure bias you will likely wind up with gray snow. If you lighten it too much you will have featureless ice.  The image below is a good example of a balancing act. If my failing memory is correct, I took a manual spot exposure from the white ice, and then opened up somewhere from 1 1/3rd to 2 stops.  I love the artful quality of the small stream of gently falling water and the rigid ice playing both with and against one another.Slides5 033

The next two images are those of a different waterfall than you see above.  The first image is my personal favorite of this entire post. You are looking through a picture frame of ice, to both the past and the future.  It was once pure liquid and will surely return to that again.  Just like with a summer waterfall, I needed a slow shutter speed to achieve the silky water effect in these pix.1G61cAbsractElMorro 086

Here we see an image where all of the falling water is frozen.  We see those thick icicles that have been frozen the longest.  Eventually the thin veil of falling water next to the rock, formed a sheet of ice.  The coldest image in this collection?Slides2 049

In the land of falling water the result of winter sometimes rests at the foot of the falls. Next to a frozen frame around moving water this is my favorite place to practice the art of ice photography.

I truly enjoyed visually exploring the small mountains and castles that were born as a result of falling water and cold weather.  Much of what you see comes from the freezing, thawing and refreezing of that falling water.Slides5 016

Then when you “back off” a bit, a new art form is created.  All of the black water is really the mating of water and black rock.zSlides5 022

The freezing of moving water isn’t only evident with waterfalls.  This is Cave Point, a county park and geological feature in Door County, Wisconsin.  This section of rock is where the name cave Point comes from.  The pounding from the violent waves of Lake Michigan have hollowed this spot out.  Those same crashing waves leave a coat of water on the upper levels of the rock.  In cold weather it only takes a few minutes of calm water for that coat to freeze.  A resuming of wave activity or some warm weather will begin the melting process.  Before long the ice sculpting begins vi dripping (falling?) water and refreezing.  If you look towards the bottom of the rock form, you see Lake Michigan.  Well, what you really see is a very frozen Lake Michigan that is covered with snow.  That was a cold winter, but places like Cave Point always warm me on the inside.Slides2 052

How about a cold and violently windy day where that same lake has not yet frozen.  This shot was made near home and if you look at the foreground rocks, you will see the start of Arresting Motion or Frozen Solid.  The cycle begins again.DSC_9694

I want to thank Mother Nature for allowing me to be her partner in the creating of the above images.  She does nice work.  She is in fact, the greatest creator of nature images that I have ever known.

The magic of photography, especially nature photography, is exploration.  Whether you are photographing birds, grand landscapes or ice, if you look around you, nature never lets you down.

Grab your cameras and celebrate.

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3 Responses to Arresting Motion…or…Frozen Solid

  1. ron says:

    Wayne, Stupid question time…….The shot in the middle appears yellow. Is that age of the slide dong that, or was there something like sulphur in the water that caused that, or what? Please explain. Ron

    • It has a warmer tone than the image straight above it, and it is the same falls. I think the slide was okay so I am not sure. It might be closer to what our eyes see than the other shot, as that one has the normal (in photography) cool tones for winter ice in the shade.

      Anyway, it was not a stupid question and one I had already asked myself.

      • I should have also mentioned that daylight films with no filters often had color shifts. I could have dedided that I wanted to experiment correcting a cool tone and used an 81b warming filter for that shot. Those two were done so long ago that I barely remember making the shot much less if I used a filter. A good reason to take notes when we shoot.

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