Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘ice

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

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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

The ice storm of 2007 — the second day

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As you heard and saw last time, on January 17, 2007, Austin had an ice storm. The next morning, 11 years ago today, the land remained frozen. The roads were a little better, so I ventured beyond my neighborhood and ended up at a property on the northeast corner of Burnet Rd. and Wells Branch Parkway.* There I spent some three hours suffering in the cold for the rare chance in such a warm climate as ours to record plants transformed by ice. The photograph above shows a southern dewberry, Rubus trivialis. Below is a colony of bushy bluestem, Andropogon glomeratus.

Look at the patterns on the ice in this close view of a bushy bluestem seed head bent sideways:

And there were branching jeweled abstractions of ice and light and lens:

 


 

* That property, where I went photographing in the years before and after the ice storm, finally got built on, I think in 2015. I’ll always see it wild, as it was when I roamed there.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 18, 2018 at 5:00 AM

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