Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Another plant, longer ice

with 35 comments

Greenbrier Leaf with Icicle at Tip 2443

On March 4th, as you’ve heard, I went to Great Hills Park because we’d had overnight rain and some of it had frozen in the early morning air, giving me a rare chance—but less rare than usual this winter—for nature pictures that include ice. The previous post showed you a thinly encased twig of an elbowbush, and now here’s some more-extreme ice at the tip of a greenbrier leaf, Smilax bona-nox. The vertical stripes in this column of ice remind me of similar though shorter lines in a lengthening drop of water I showed here a couple of years ago.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 12, 2014 at 6:00 AM

35 Responses

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  1. Nice ice image….j

    Developing A New Image

    March 12, 2014 at 6:55 AM

  2. The clarity of ice always amazes me, but with this little bit, I’m most interested in the forces that created both horizontal and vertical lines. It’s really intriguing.


    March 12, 2014 at 7:03 AM

    • Little bit is correct, especially in the horizontal dimension: I’d say this icicle was only about a quarter of an inch wide. I know that scientists have analyzed snowflakes, so it’s natural to wonder to what extent physicists have analyzed the forces inside an icicle. I’ve seen accounts of how icicles develop, but I don’t recall reading about the forces involved.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 12, 2014 at 8:27 AM

      • Are we commenting on the air trapped inside? I’m guessing this icicle accumulated over the course of several days. At the end of each day as the air cooled at night a bit of air was trapped at the very moment of crystalization and hardening. Each day a few more ‘inclusions’ were added. Just my hypothesis. D

        Pairodox Farm

        March 12, 2014 at 4:09 PM

        • I assume that when shoreacres referred to horizontal lines she meant the bubbles inside the upper part of the icicle. One difference between central Texas and Pennsylvania is that down here the temperature almost never stays below freezing for a few days straight, and as a result we don’t get ice or snow that persists the way it does up north. The temperature was not below freezing when I went to bed on the night of March 3rd, so there was no ice at all then. It rained during the night (I heard some of it), and only toward morning did the temperature get low enough for the rainwater to freeze. As a result, the ice at the tip of this leaf must have formed over a period of at most a few hours.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 12, 2014 at 4:33 PM

          • When it got in the 20s here the watering, or should I say the cracking of the ice layer on my poultry troughs, always resulted in splashing. It took only seconds to freeze onto my clothes, not hours. How cold was it when this mini-cicle formed? Do you know?

            Still, a lovely image no matter how long it took to create.


            March 13, 2014 at 12:16 AM

            • The temperature when I started was probably 28°F to 30°F, and when I finished a couple of hours later it was a good 10°F higher. By then water was dripping from the trees as the thin accumulations of ice on them melted. The tips of some of the mini-cicles I saw were slowly turning to drops of water.

              In any case, as you say, I was just happy for a last chance this season to photograph some pretty ice formations.

              Steve Schwartzman

              March 13, 2014 at 8:27 AM

  3. I was trying to find out how many different images I could see in the ice – love this picture.

  4. Wonderful capture of nature’s tricks and metamorphosis.


    March 12, 2014 at 7:20 AM

    • I’ll agree that this is one of the great metamorphoses in nature, despite the fact that it’s common in so many parts of the world.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 12, 2014 at 9:56 AM

  5. Interesting patterns in the ice. Nice sharp focus.

    Jim in IA

    March 12, 2014 at 7:29 AM

    • There wasn’t a lot of light, but the fact that the icicle lay approximately in a plane made it easier for me to orient the camera’s sensor plane parallel to it and thereby get most parts of my subject in focus. Not all the pictures I took of this and similar icicles succeeded, but all I needed was one.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 12, 2014 at 10:00 AM

  6. Reminds me of glass art.


    March 12, 2014 at 8:49 AM

  7. Just awesome, Steve!!!


    March 12, 2014 at 10:01 AM

  8. Steve, Do you mind sharing what kind of lens you used for this shot?


    March 12, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    • All the closeup pictures I’ve taken for the last decade have been with a Canon 100mm macro lens. For several years I had the original f/2.8 version, but then I got the newer f/2.8L version, which adds image stabilization (though the closer the lens is to the subject, the less effective the stabilization is). Nikon makes a 105mm macro lens that I’ve heard good things about, too. Short of getting a dedicated macro lens, you can use an extension tube to allow a regular lens to focus more closely than it would normally be able to.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 12, 2014 at 10:10 AM

  9. Neat shot, incredible to see inside the ice like that! ~SueBee

    SueBee and Kat

    March 12, 2014 at 11:18 AM

  10. Etonnant de voir de la glace chez toi Steve, j’adore les petites bulles dans cette stalactite.. superbe!


    March 12, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    • Oui, c’est assez rare chez nous, Chantal, mais ça nous arrive de temps en temps, et cette fois-ci j’en ai profité.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 12, 2014 at 11:45 AM

  11. Tres Jolie ❤


    March 12, 2014 at 12:47 PM

  12. Would the following remark be taken as rude, I wonder …. DAM YOU’VE GOT A KILLER EYE! You have quite the knack for seeing what the rest of us simply pass over. I repeat … DAM! I know what I like and I know what I don’t like … in my humble opinion therefore this is a tremendous image. There’s no more to be said. D

    Pairodox Farm

    March 12, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    • Hi, D., and thanks for your enthusiasm about this image, which of course I’m fond of too. The unusually cold winter in central Texas has given me several chances to play with some of the icy formations common in colder climates like yours in the Northeast, and I’m glad I didn’t let any of them get away from me. In this latest jaunt I stayed out for a couple of hours, and my gloves were soaked through by the time I got back to my car. Hard to believe that yesterday, a week after this picture, we got up to 81° here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 12, 2014 at 4:22 PM

  13. Very nice shot Steve! I love the details in the ice!

    Michael Glover

    March 12, 2014 at 8:38 PM

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