Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Ice formations on a cliff in Great Hills Park

with 21 comments

February 18th saw my third foray into Great Hills Park in quest of ice, and second in search of snow. I pushed further into the park than two days earlier and eventually got to a place where I saw icicles and ice flows up on a cliff. Before I’d left home I knew I’d have to walk a treacherous half mile each way just getting to and from the park, plus more inside the park, so I’d left my heavy camera bag behind and brought only my camera with a 24–105mm lens (and flash) attached. Without a telephoto there was no way I was going to take decent pictures of the icicles high on the cliff unless I climbed at least part-way up the steep slope to get closer. Using two trekking poles for balance and stability, I slowly worked my way higher than I’d ever previously done there even without snow and ice. Intrepid or foolish: take your pick. The longest icicles were in a place that ultimately proved too difficult to get close to, so I got as near as I dared and took a few pictures, aware that I’d have to crop in a lot when I processed them. Fortunately my camera gives 50-megapixel images to work with; what you see in the top photograph represents about one-third of a full frame.

I did manage to get over onto a ledge that put me near several other
ice formations, two of which are shown above and below.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 3, 2021 at 4:33 AM

21 Responses

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  1. Your perseverance and stamina have been well rewarded here. I clearly see a face in your second, a sort of cross between a bulldog and a gargoyle, and it seems to be expressing considerable delight at your successful endeavor.


    March 3, 2021 at 4:57 AM

    • Echoing Lincoln in Gettysburg, I’ll say your cross between a bulldog and a gargoyle rises far above my poor power to add or detract. I’m certainly willing to share my own delight at a successful endeavor, one that, as you said, took perseverance and stamina.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 3, 2021 at 5:07 AM

  2. The contrast in color between the two primary flows in the first image is noteworthy, and for some reason the third photo brought barnacles to mind — or, barnicles, if you will. I’m glad you took the photos, and I’m glad you made it home safely. While I tend to be pretty cautious in the great outdoors, I understand the compulsion to keep going ‘just a little farther’ — especially when offered a truly rare opportunity.

    By the way: don’t forget that tomorrow is Exelauno Day!


    March 3, 2021 at 8:15 AM

    • I understand how the gnarly rocks and ice in the last picture might make sea-focused you think of barnacles—or barnicles, in this context. I pushed myself to climb the slope. In the end I don’t think I ever went beyond what was prudent, but I did go beyond where a querulous mind might have called a halt from too much caution. Exelauno Day, with its cross-language pun on March 4th, is new to me; that’s what I get for never having taken a class in Greek. You may be interested in an example of something in the same spirit between Latin and English: https://www.etymonline.com/word/tandem.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 3, 2021 at 8:41 AM

    • By the way, I looked back at the original picture and didn’t see anything that would account for the difference in shading between those two main ice flows.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 4, 2021 at 5:16 AM

      • I wonder if it was the mineral content of the rock where the water was seeping. The flow on the right has the color of hill country lime-bedded creeks, and I suppose a cliff could have different composition from place to place.


        March 4, 2021 at 7:59 AM

  3. Wow! These icicles are huge and beautiful. One could excuse your temerity or foolishness considering what you were able to capture with your 50 MB camera, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    March 3, 2021 at 8:34 AM

    • Definitely Canada-worthy icicles in Texas for a change. I’ve often appreciated the large sensor in my camera when I haven’t been able to get as close to a subject as I’d have liked. Normally I carry a 100-400mm lens with me in my bag, and that’s what I’d have used in this case if so much difficult walking hadn’t made lugging the bag along impractical.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 3, 2021 at 8:47 AM

  4. I am caught up now! You have massed a marvelous collection of beautiful photos from this storm, Steve. I do like the dark background for showcasing closeup ice formations.

    Lavinia Ross

    March 3, 2021 at 11:03 AM

    • Now if only I could get caught up… I took lots of ice pictures, so I’m planning to show at least a few more before spring arrives.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 3, 2021 at 12:46 PM

  5. I’m still astounded to see such ice formations in TX! We take them for granted, yet you risk life and limb to capture them. Brave man!

    Eliza Waters

    March 3, 2021 at 11:26 AM

    • Thanks. It was a rare chance for such things here, and I wasn’t going to pass it by. For five straight days my picture taking alternated between Great Hills Park and our yard.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 3, 2021 at 12:48 PM

  6. So crystal clear picture of an icicle. Loved the picture.

    Anu Murthy

    March 4, 2021 at 3:35 AM

  7. It’s only foolish if you fall, at least that’s what I tell myself when I’m doing something intrepid!

    Very nice captures, I especially like the first one.

    Ellen Jennings

    March 4, 2021 at 10:57 AM

    • I’m glad you sided with the intrepid in this case. It was exciting to portray icicles for a change—and for several days.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 4, 2021 at 3:34 PM

  8. It is funny to see such ice formations coming from a Texas photographer. You made good use of an unusual opportunity. I’ve learned to not risk injury pursuing shots like this. A long lens does afford safe shooting.

    Steve Gingold

    March 6, 2021 at 4:21 PM

    • For a week in February I made like you, at least to the extent I could. Normally I’d have used my 100-400 zoom lens for those long icicles high on the cliff but there was no way I was going to walk a mile there and a mile back on slippery ice and frozen snow with a 15-lb. camera bag of equipment slung over my shoulder throwing me off balance. In the decision not to bring all my usual gear I definitely tried to ward off injury. As for climbing part-way up the slope, I debated with myself about how prudent it would be, and I hesitated. Then, emboldened by the two trekking poles to which I’d attached the round snow guards that came with them but which we’d never used before, I cautiously worked my way up. I don’t think I was ever in danger.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 6, 2021 at 4:43 PM

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