Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Ice is nice, part 2

with 32 comments

Here’s what you heard in part 1: In a shaded part of Great Hills Park on January 12th I discovered that thin sheets of ice had formed close to the ground. Most importantly for my purposes, I found that I could slowly lift up a small section of ice and it would come away in a piece that was irregularly shaped yet didn’t break apart. Over and over I did my light lifting, each time facing toward the sun and holding the little panel erect against a group of shaded trees so that backlighting would reveal details in the ice.

Today’s post offers you a few more monochrome ice abstractions.

Pictures like these seem to lend themselves to pareidolia,
so if you imagine things in them, you’re welcome to say what they suggest.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 31, 2021 at 4:34 AM

32 Responses

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  1. Smart, beautiful, and unusual, as usual. The beauty around us. Thanks.

    Lynn Somerstein

    January 31, 2021 at 6:10 AM

    • Your juxtaposition of unusual and usual is welcome, as was the revelation of these natural designs by large amounts of missing bark.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 31, 2021 at 6:16 AM

  2. I either need more coffee, or less. From the top, I see: a left-facing bird; a dog begging to be picked up; a frog; and a Dodo. It’s amazing what some water, some freezing temperatures, and some light can create.


    January 31, 2021 at 7:26 AM

    • I always need more coffee… 🙂 For the top, I’m reminded of old Celtic carved stones – a horse and rider with a shield. Or it could be a dragon with its wings partly outstretched. The second looks like an angel statue and the last one could be a couple dancing.

      Ann Mackay

      January 31, 2021 at 7:58 AM

      • Then more the merrier for you this morning, as Celtic carvings initially sway your imagination. I do see the shield now that you’ve mentioned it. In the second picture I saw a person rather than an angel. The last picture comes across to me as one subject rather than two, so your imagination is more expansive than mine.

        Steve Schwartzman

        January 31, 2021 at 8:22 AM

    • In the first picture I saw a left-facing animal of some sort, not necessarily a bird. In the second I saw a person with upraised arms rather than a dog; I think I’m influenced by Mesoamerican figurines I’ve seen. In the third, now that you’ve proposed a frog, I can kind of see it, though an iguana might be equally likely. In the forth, I get how you see a dodo.

      Yes, “It’s amazing what some water, some freezing temperatures, and some light can create”: frozen, translucent, asymmetric Rorschach blots.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 31, 2021 at 8:16 AM

  3. Great shapes… even nature can make ice sculptures.


    January 31, 2021 at 8:18 AM

  4. The first one looks like a Mayan sculpture. When I rotate the second image counterclockwise, I see another Mayan sculpture. The last one appears to me like a bloated seahorse. I had some trouble with image 3. So I am content with describing it as a great abstract design.

    Peter Klopp

    January 31, 2021 at 8:25 AM

    • I also had Mesoamerican associations with some of these, most notably the second, so it’s interesting that you picked up on that connection too. I understand how you see a bloated seahorse. The third formation especially appealed to me because of all its little protuberances, which didn’t break off.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 31, 2021 at 8:29 AM

  5. I was just as intrigued about the way you handled the ice, and carefully set up your photo session as I was with the beauty of the delicate ice sheets. As thin as the ice appears to be, I wonder if any of your finger holds melted before you could get the shot?


    January 31, 2021 at 8:38 AM

    • Good question. My left thumb was beginning to ache from contact with the lowest portions of the ice sheets. That means heat was going out of my thumb and melting bits of ice, though not enough to make any of the ice pieces slip out of my hand before I went on to another piece. Eventually I thought to use the handkerchief in my pocket, an edge of which served as insulation between my fingers and the ice they held. By the time I finished taking pictures and turned toward home, the handkerchief was soaked with water that had come from melted ice.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 31, 2021 at 9:18 AM

  6. It’s like being in a museum full of ancient sculptures. They’re all beautiful.


    January 31, 2021 at 10:21 AM

  7. The ice on black background make pleasing compositions.

    Lavinia Ross

    January 31, 2021 at 12:39 PM

  8. Another great set of photos, Steve. I’m surprised that the ice was thick enough not to crumble at the touch. But your results are stunning and unusual.


    January 31, 2021 at 7:15 PM

    • I was worried that some of those thin flanges would break off, but ice may be stronger than we realize. And the fact that everything stayed intact let me get a lots of pictures of a type that was new to me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 31, 2021 at 8:48 PM

  9. These remind me of satellite images of cities and landmasses with coastlines. Pretty neat!

    Eliza Waters

    January 31, 2021 at 8:14 PM

    • I held the ice upright and at arm’s length. Now your imagination has it horizontal again and viewed from hundreds of thousands of arms high.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 31, 2021 at 9:01 PM

  10. That’s an interesting technique and one I’ve not considered. One thing it guarantees is that no one will likely come along and duplicate your image.

    Steve Gingold

    February 1, 2021 at 4:00 AM

    • I’ve not seen ice pictures like these from any other photographer. On the other hand, given how many people have taken photographs over the going-on two centuries that photography has existed, I have to assume someone somewhere somewhen used the same technique.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 1, 2021 at 5:37 AM

  11. Steve! These are so COOL! (couldn’t resist!) They remind me of aerial photographs of Arctic ice against a stormy sea.


    February 1, 2021 at 12:14 PM

    • I wouldn’t resist playing with the senses of cool, either. Great Hills Park is a far cry from a stormy Arctic sea, but it’s a whole lot closer to home.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 1, 2021 at 2:41 PM

  12. So much fodder for the imagination here. Although not the most intricate or challenging, your second image speaks to me of a gentle figure with a gentle, right-handed greeting gesture.


    February 2, 2021 at 1:45 AM

  13. […] contrast to the monochrome portraits in part 1 and part 2, today’s post offers you a couple of abstractions in which the ice picked up colors from the […]

  14. These remind me (perhaps strangely?) of stone-age plinths somehow.

    Johnny Crabcakes

    February 4, 2021 at 1:02 AM

    • That’s an association I wouldn’t have thought to make but I’m glad the ice formations suggested it to you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 4, 2021 at 7:00 AM

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