Winter Portfolio 2019

In central Pennsylvania where I live, we experience one or two weeks of very cold weather every year. (By cold, I mean days with lows around 0 F.)  2019 was no different. While most people hunkered down and stayed inside during this period, I grabbed my camera and went exploring. The reason is that I can't resist photographing the fantastic ice formations that can occur in the mountain streams and brooks this time of year.

Unfortunately, it's not easy to operate a camera in weather this cold. While my camera would function, my fingers tended to grow numb, even when I used a glove with exposed fingers on the right hand. Also, water droplets kept splashing onto my camera lens when I was taking macro shots near the flowing brook, which had to be quickly wiped off lest it blur the lens or freeze the focus mechanism or worse. It took a lot of experimenting, setting the right F stop, shutter speed, and ASA. I usually kept the camera mounted on a tripod which I propped and extended over the flowing water to get up near the subject. I also used a remote shutter button to eliminate camera shake. I was pushing my Sony A7 to the max, shooting 36M pixel RAW at ASA 100, usually at F16. There was of course considerable hazard, that I might slip or drop my camera into the water at any time. I persevered, imagining my job to be far easier than the great nature photographers of the world.

I was amazed at what I was able to accomplish on a mere three or four trips to our neighborhood mountain brook. On the coldest day, with temps around 10 F, my camera's batteries were running down quicker than usual in the cold, my body was freezing, I couldn't feel some of my fingers, but the ice formations were unquestionably the best I'd ever seen. At this temperature, the ice tends to form composites of other various formations that come together in sometimes strange ways, in ways that mimic alien landscapes. Particularly when ice formed on logs, branches and rocks near the splashing brook, forming a canopy that still allowed sunlight to penetrate through the ice, I knew I was glimpsing into something very rare, something that spoke more of the moons of Jupiter than South Central Pennsylvania. I particularly enjoy the images that are context-insensitive, with very little clue as to what you're looking at, except for the crystalline beauty painted in violently contrasting hues of light and dark, as if depicting the cosmic struggle between light and dark itself.

You can view more of these images at my Flickr account, which also includes metadata for each shot.