Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘ice

The change from Tuesday morning to Wednesday morning

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From Monday’s weather forecast I learned that the overnight temperature into Tuesday morning would drop a few degrees below freezing. Sure enough, when I checked the thermometer early Tuesday morning it read 29°. Equally sure enough, that meant I had to dress warmly and go out into the cold for the season’s first possible pictures of frostweed ice. I drove the half-mile to my usual stand of plants (Verbesina virginica) in Great Hills Park and found—nada. Despite the freeze, not a single frostweed plant had produced ice.

On Wednesday morning the thermometer read 32° and I gave the project a second try. This time a couple of dozen frostweed plants had woken up and remembered what they’re supposed to do when the temperature drops to freezing, and they did it, as these two photographs confirm. The second image is more abstract, which I consider a good thing in my quest for different ways to photograph a familiar subject.

If the frostweed ice phenomenon is new to you, you’re welcome to look back at previous posts to learn more.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 14, 2019 at 4:41 AM

A preternaturally svelte and icy en pointe

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A preternaturally svelte and icy en pointe.

Great Hills Park; January 17, 2018.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 4, 2019 at 11:24 AM

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Frostweed ice abstraction

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Envious of the ice and snow pictures that some of you who dwell in the lands of true winter have been showing lately, this morning I finally got a chance to follow suit after the overnight temperature dropped to freezing and a few frostweed plants (Verbesina virginica) in Great Hills Park did their magic ice trick. Shown here is a little piece of ice that separated from the frostweed stalk it had formed on.

If the phenomenon of crystallofolia is new to you, you can find a basic explanation in a post of mine from 2012 and a thorough treatment in an article by Bob Harms.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 24, 2019 at 11:48 AM

Frost and frostweed ice

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As yesterday gave way to today, the temperature in Austin dropped below freezing, so out I went this morning to check on a stand of frostweed (Verbesina virginica) that I rely on in Great Hills Park. Sure enough, a couple of dozen plants had done their magic ice trick. The one shown here did so right next to a straggler daisy (Calyptocarpus vialis) that conveniently harmonized with it by getting frosted in its own right. If you’d like a better view of the straggler daisy, click the thumbnail below.

And if you’re not familiar with the frostweed ice phenomenon, you’re welcome to read more about it.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 14, 2018 at 4:18 PM

New Zealand: Milford Sound and the road to it

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A year ago today we took a boat tour of the South Island’s famous Milford Sound. In the picture below, taken from the boat, note that in addition to the fur seals basking in a cluster on the top of the prominent boulder, there’s one below and three to the left, though the size of the photograph makes it hard to distinguish two of those three. (An upcoming post will give you a closer look at some seals on the east coast of the South Island.) Also notice the native bush, the layers of rock in the boulder, and the waterfall in the background.

Speaking of waterfalls, lots of them come down the high, steep slopes surrounding Milford Sound. I ended up photographing 11 in good detail, of which the following was the first:

We’d also seen ice-melt cascading down the mountains through which the road to Milford Sound passes via the Homer Tunnel. Because the tunnel has just one lane, people have to wait their turn for oncoming traffic to clear. I took advantage of the wait to get out of the car for some pictures, including this one:

Earlier in the day, our first stop on the way to Milford Sound had been Mirror Lakes, where New Zealand flax plants (Phormium tenax) and their reflections in the colorful water caught my attention. (At least I’m assuming this is flax: if anyone knows otherwise, please speak up.)

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 22, 2018 at 4:45 AM

New Zealand: remembering our first glacier

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A year ago today we visited the Franz Josef Glacier on the west side of New Zealand’s South Island. A summer morning it was, and therefore touristy, but we found a space in the crowded carpark and set out on the 5.5-km round-trip hike to the glacier. We first glimpsed it from far away, when tree ferns were more prominent.

Then we kept on to the end of the trail, which left us still a bit removed from the foot of the glacier. That was the time to pull out a telephoto lens, as I did for the picture below. This was the first glacier we’d ever seen in person, so naturally we were impressed. There’s something special about glacial ice’s pastel blue hue.

As a photographer I’m at least as interested in the small things as the prominent ones. Below are five close looks at formful and colorful details that caught my fancy on the hike.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 20, 2018 at 4:39 AM

New Zealand: sunset over Franz Josef Glacier

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Late in the afternoon a year ago today we checked into the Glacier View Motel outside the village of Franz Josef Glacier on the west side of New Zealand’s South Island. The motel lived up to its name, as you can confirm in this view that I recorded at sundown.

(“Monday mountains 8” is an alternate title for this post.)

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 19, 2018 at 4:25 AM

Bow Lake revisited

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What goes up must come down, or so they say. Even if that’s not always true, it was true for us with regard to Alberta’s scenic Icefields Parkway. On September 4th last year we drove up it and on September 6th we came back down. You’ve already seen a conventional view and two abstract views of Bow Lake from the northbound trip. Now add a couple of looks at the lake from our southbound trip, which gave us smoky haze rather than the clarity of two days earlier. Nevertheless, you can still see the beautiful color imparted to the lake’s water by what’s known as rock flour or glacial flour. You can also confirm that some patches of snow and ice remained in the adjacent mountains even at the warmest time of the year.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 3, 2018 at 4:40 AM

Another way in which our water still remembers how to freeze

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Yesterday you saw the sideways way the surface of the water pulls and folds and stretches on the rare occasions when it freezes in our creeks. Another sort of freezing that we rarely see in Austin is the kind that turns the dripping-dropping movement of cold water into textured downward columns made of ice. Sustained temperatures in the 20s from the night of January 15th through the morning of the 17th did the trick. Both of today’s photographs show you icicles that had freeze-dripped down from the roof of the picturesque limestone overhang in the southern part of Great Hills Park.

The first picture, taken with a wide-angle lens at an aperture of f/7.1, gives you an overview (nay, underview) of part of the limestone and adjacent woods. Call the picture pretty in a conventional way.

In the service of a different vision, from about the same place and aiming in about the same direction I focused on one icicle with a 100mm macro lens set at its broadest aperture of f/2.8 to produce the second photograph. The sunny light in the distance apparently influenced the camera’s sensor to register the ice as bluer than people’s eyes see it under the same conditions. The image as a whole may seem abstract and even unrealistic, but there are times when reality is overrated; this could be one of those times.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 20, 2018 at 4:47 AM

Our water still remembers how to freeze

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With great anticipation I awaited the rain, sleet, and perhaps even snow predicted in central Texas for the night of January 15th into the morning of the 16th. I figured I’d finally get another shot at ice-encased plants like the ones from 2007 you’ve seen in the last two posts. The rain came right on time. The temperature promptly dropped below freezing and ended up staying there for a day and a half. Alas, the morning light on January 16th revealed that practically no ice had stuck to any vegetation. I decided to wait till the 17th to go out and see whether at least the prolonged cold would have produced some things for me to photograph. As I walked along the creek that runs through the southern part of Great Hills Park, the line that is the title of today’s post sprang into my mind.*

Both of the pictures included here from that day look straight down at places where the surface of the creek was turning to ice. The abstractness of the first image appeals to me. In the second photograph, notice the amphibian in the water beneath the ice. I was so intent on capturing patterns in the congealing surface of the creek that I didn’t see the animal till I looked at my pictures on the computer screen later, and even then it took me a while.

 


 

* I find the line has several virtues. The thought is poetic. The meter is iambic pentameter. As far as Google can tell, no one has ever written down that sequence of words. Thanks, mind, for the inspiration.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 19, 2018 at 4:50 AM

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