Category Archives: Ice

Finding and Shooting ice

Finding and shooting ice

Race Brook Falls trail, Southwest Massachusetts.

Loren and I hiked up the Race Brook Falls trail (that I maintain for Berkshire AMC) and while there was plenty of ice it was mostly covered by a thin layer of snow.

It was a great hike and I didn’t think I’d be taking any pictures when I spotted a thin ribbon of water feeding Race Brook that looked to have some ice in it. On closer inspection there were some nice patterns created as different water levels froze.

This is what it looks like when you find an interesting ice patch. How you photograph it (close, far, etc.) and how you process the images comes later.

For those who care, I have on Kahtoola Micro Spikes which are essential when walking on slippery ground and are much easier to deal with than crampons. They’re easy to put on and work extremely well, better than “Yak Tracks” by far.

More ice on Schaghticoke Ridge

Ice growing in loose dirt on the Appalachian Triail

Ice growing in loose dirt on the Appalachian Triail

On a very cold day a few weeks ago we took a hike up the Appalachian Trail on Schaghticoke Ridge just south of Kent, Connecticut.

This is a collection of ice formations that were either in the same flow in different places or on the trail leading up to the flow. The variety was amazing and had I spent more time there I’m sure I would have found even more although my fingers would have become so numb I wouldn’t have been able to use the camera.

Small crevasse with feather ice

Small crevasse with feather ice

Feather ice

Feather ice

Large ice crystals in stepped ice fall

Large ice crystals in stepped ice fall

Large ice crystals in stepped ice fall

Large ice crystals in stepped ice fall

Large ice crystals in stepped ice fall

Large ice crystals in stepped ice fall

Ice flow on Schaghticoke Ridge

Ice flow on Schaghticoke Ridge

On a very cold day a few weeks ago we took a hike up the Appalachian Trail on Schaghticoke Ridge just south of Kent, Connecticut. We were about to turn around as it was extremely cold when we saw an ice flow from a seep in the ground ahead so we kept going.

It’s tough to know if formations like this will have interesting ice formations to shoot but on close inspection, this flow, which was about 15 feet wide and close to 100 feet long was a gold mine.

I took over 200 images in the 45 minutes we spent there and I could have spent the rest of the day there had it not been extremely cold. It’s taken me a while to get through the images and this set is the first group, there are many more from different areas of the flow.

This group were all taken in a four foot square section that had an unusual formation in it which you can see in the first shot in the group. All shots after the first were taken either within the formation or just off frame left or right. It was absolutely in credible, I could have spent all day in this one spot.

Ice flow on Schaghticoke Ridge

Ice flow on Schaghticoke Ridge

Ice flow on Schaghticoke Ridge

Ice flow on Schaghticoke Ridge

Ice flow on Schaghticoke Ridge

Ice flow on Schaghticoke Ridge

Ice flow on Schaghticoke Ridge

Ice flow on Schaghticoke Ridge

Ice crystals on Pine Swamp

Pine Swamp snow, ice, bubbles

Pine Swamp, West Cornwall, Connecticut. Loren and I snowshoed up to Pine Swamp to see if the beavers had been active and check out the landscape. This hike on the Appalachian Trail involves going through a narrow chimney which, under normal circumstances is quite easy but with snowshoes on is awkward. We made it, just and circumnavigated the pond, crossing the now well frozen beaver dams going out and coming back.

The ice crystals were magnificent and different from what I’d seen here before but it was quite cold with a breeze which put the wind chill below zero. I never took off my glove liners (under mittens) but even then, I didn’t do as much shooting as I wanted to; one has to keep moving on a day like this. Shooting under these conditions puts camera ergonomics front and center. Fumbling with a lens cap or with tough to use controls could cause real problems. While the Ricoh GR can hunt for focus when there isn’t a lot of contrast, I’m continuing to find its controls a delight to use with gloves on.

Pine Swamp ice

Pine Swamp snow, ice, bubbles

Pine Swamp ice

Return to Sage’s Ravine

Dave at the narrows

Dave at the narrows

Appalachian Trail, Sage’s Ravine, Connecticut/Massachusetts border.

These images are from our return to Sage’s Ravine to shoot more ice. It was a bit colder on this day but as long as we kept moving and didn’t spend too much time in one place shooting we were fine. I never took my glove liners off the entire hike and was easily able to work the Ricoh GR, my hands never got cold.

Ice cave

Ice cave

Two waterfalls on Sage's Brook

Two waterfalls on Sage’s Brook

Ice fall down a cliff in Sage's Ravine

Ice fall down a cliff in Sage’s Ravine

Ice patterns on the way to Sage’s Ravine

Ice covering leaves

Ice covering leaves

Appalachian Trail, Sage’s Ravine, Connecticut/Massachusetts border.

A few more ice shots from our hike into Sage’s Ravine the other day. These were from the trail north of Bear Mountain.

Ice patterns in a rut

Ice patterns in a rut

Ice patterns in a rut

Growing ice crystals in a stream

Growing ice crystals in a stream

High contrast needle ice

High contrast needle ice

Appalachian Trail, Sage’s Ravine, Connecticut/Massachusetts border.

Dave and I hiked into Sage’s Ravine again and took a lot more landscape images but on the way there I noticed some needle ice (an ice crystal formation that grows in loose dirt) growing in a rut in the trail. I took these images with the Ricoh GR in both RAW and high contrast black and white JPEG expecting to toss the JPEGs and process the RAWs but wow, the JPEGs look like paintings. The ice looks like brush strokes. These were the keepers, the RAWs don’t work nearly as well.

High contrast needle ice

High contrast needle ice

Ice on Race Brook

Ice bubbles and metamorphic fragments

Ice bubbles and metamorphic fragments

Race Brook Falls Trail, Southwest Massachusetts. Dave and I are the “maintainers” of this blue trail connecting Rt. 41 to the Appalachian Trail and we have to hike it regularly to make sure it’s clear. It’s about 2 miles of steep switchbacks from the parking lot to the AT intersection. This was our first hike this spring and I was surprised to find some decent ice to take pictures of on Race Brook and in puddles off to the side of the trail.

Metamorphic ice fragments

Metamorphic ice fragments

Metamorphic ice fragments

Metamorphic ice fragments

Frozen foam

Frozen foam

Frozen foam

Frozen foam

Frozen foam

Frozen foam

Ice layers and bubbles

Ice layers and bubbles

Ice bubbles and frozen beech leaf

Ice bubbles and frozen beech leaf

Ice on Bear Mountain

Mt. Everett and Mt. Race from Bear Mountain

Mt. Everett and Mt. Race from Bear Mountain

Bear Mountain, Salisbury, Connecticut. Dave and I hiked up Bear Mountain and this is the view north into Massachusetts to Mt. Race and Mt. Everett. The Appalachian Trail runs from the left edge of this image over the tops of those two mountains to the left side of this image (we’ve hiked that section dozens of times).

We could see the ice on the trees from the road on the drive up so we wanted to do this hike to get some shots of the ice which can be pretty fantastic.

Turned out it was a great day to be out, not too cold and while the snow was deep and drifted in places it wasn’t too tough to walk in without snowshoes.

Mt. Frissell and Round Top from Bear Mountain

Mt. Frissell and Round Top from Bear Mountain

This is on the south ridge of Bear Mountain looking west into New York state. The top of Mt. Frissell is actually in Massachusetts but the south shoulder of it is the highest “point” in Connecticut. Bear Mountain, which we’re on is the highest “peak” (so to speak).

Dave photographing ice on a pitch pine

Dave photographing ice on a pitch pine

We spent a lot of time attempting to photograph the ice on various trees. The pitch pines were the most interesting although there was ice everywhere.

Pitch pine ice

Pitch pine ice

You can see which way the wind was blowing by how the ice is deposited on the needles.

Pitch pine ice

Pitch pine ice

Ice on a leaf bud

Ice on a leaf bud

Here, again, you can see how the wind was blowing as the freezing rain/snow was coming down.

Ice on branches and buds

Another example showing the ice on the downwind side of branches.

Ice layers and bubbles

Ice layers

On the Appalachian Trail between Hubbard Brook and Rt. 7 near Sheffield, Massachusetts.

This was the finest collection of ice patterns I’d ever seen in my many years of looking for and shooting them. This was a shallow swamp right on the trail with a small crumbling bridge/boardwalk running through it.

On either side of the boardwalk was a different collection of ice patterns. I went nuts shooting, then Dave found the ice bubbles and yelled out.

We could have spent much of the day at this spot and if I’d had, say, a full frame camera like the Sony RX1 or any easy to use camera I’d have shot even more.

As it was, going from the 100 or so images I took down to the nine I’m posting here has taken me weeks of comparing.

I can’t wait to get home to print some of these.

Ice bubbles

Ice Bubbles

Ice bubbles

Ice Bubbles

Ice bubbles

Ice Bubbles

Ice bubbles

Ice Bubbles

Ice layers

Ice Layers

Ice forms

Ice Forms

Ice layers

Ice Layers

Ice fractals

Ice Fractals

Carse Brook swamp overview

Dave shooting at Carse Brook

West Cornwall, Connecticut. This part of the Carse Brook swamp is an abandoned beaver pond that ha the brook running through the middle of it. Where Dave is standing on grass used to be under water when the beaver pond was active.

Carse Brook grass with ice

This is a depression in the old bottom of the Carse Brook beaver pond where water collected and froze. There are hundreds of these throughout this abandoned beaver pond, each with its own shape and crystal structure in the ice.

Carse Brook grass with ice

This is a closer shot of the ice formed in the depression in the bottom of this abandoned beaver pond.

Carse Brook grass with Ice

Carse Brook ice

Carse Brook ice

West Cornwall, Connecticut. We decided to check out the Carse Brook swamp just south of where we park for our hike to Pine Swamp beaver pond on the Appalachian Trail.

To our delight it was loaded with great ice formations and in the hour we spent there I took close to a hundred pictures.

This patch of ice was a puddle inside a low spot in a “field” of grass that used to be the bottom of a beaver pond. I’ll be posting some images of the swamp to give these context.

Carse Brook ice

Carse Brook ice

More ice from Carse Brook

More ice from Carse Brook

West Cornwall, Connecticut. We decided to check out the Carse Brook swamp just south of where we park for our hike to Pine Swamp beaver pond on the Appalachian Trail.

To our delight it was loaded with great ice formations and in the hour we spent there I took close to a hundred pictures.

I’m continuing to process and print images from this day and I’m very happy with them. They have a Japanese print feel to them and they look great printed large (15″ squares).

Carse Brook ice with grass

Carse Brook ice with grass

West Cornwall, Connecticut. We decided to check out the Carse Brook swamp just south of where we park for our hike to Pine Swamp beaver pond on the Appalachian Trail.

To our delight it was loaded with great ice formations and in the hour we spent there I took close to a hundred pictures.

These are the first three images I’ve processed and printed and I’m very happy with them. They have a Japanese print feel to them and they look great printed large (15″ squares). I’ll frame one of them tomorrow and get it up on the wall in our dining room so we can live with it for a while but my wife loves them as much as I do so I think I’ve done good.

Carse Brook ice with grass

Carse Brook ice with grass

Icicles on the Appalachian Trail

Icicles on the Appalachian Trail

West Cornwall, Connecticut. Hiking back from the Pine Swamp beaver pond I stopped to shoot a small outcropping of icicles and dripping ice on a small cliff face.

I haven’t shot this type of ice much before and it’s a bit tougher than shooting down on flat ice; the depth of it makes finding interesting compositions a bit tougher.

Icicles on the Appalachian Trail

Closeup of an icicle on the Appalachian Trail

Icicles on the Appalachian Trail

Return to Pine Swamp beaver pond

Pine Swamp beaver pond overview

If you click through on any of these embedded images you’ll see popup notes on my flickr images.

West Cornwall, Connecticut. Another trip to the Pine Swamp Beaver ecosystem last week during a cold snap to explore and take pictures.

This is an overview of the main beaver pond and dam from the west looking east. You can see the lodge in the middle and the large, S-shaped dam to the right. You can also see a recently felled tree (more photos later) on this shore of the pond.

This remains one of our favorite destinations on short hikes, it’s amazing what beavers have done with this stream and swamp over many generations and the ice is wonderful to photograph here as well.

Pine Swamp beaver pond overview

This is an overview of the main beaver pond and dam from the west looking east but looking further downstream. You can see the main dam but there are at least five more dams below it going out of frame on the right. There are also 5 more dams upstream to the left of this frame. Beavers construct these dams to make it easier for them to swim up and downstream with food (branches and bark). They’re very slow and awkward on land so they build waterways to safely travel in. Pure genius (and a lot of hard work).

Newly felled tree

This tree had been taken down within the few weeks before this shot was taken. It’s about 16 inches in diameter at its base and my guess this was one night’s work for one or two beavers. They took this tree down for food but also for branches to add to the dam.

I’m on the west shore of the main pond, you can see the lodge at the top of this frame.

Channel above main Pine Swamp beaver pond

This channel is typical of what you find both above and below the main pond and dam. The beavers swim up and down this channel with both food and construction material. It’s also a great place to shoot ice.

This particular channel is upstream of the main pond.

Pine Swamp ice

This was shot on the edge of a channel. You can see my left toe in the picture for scale of ice pattern. I’ll post the picture I took of that pattern in the next few days.

Early in my ice shooting experience I did a lot of macro work but lately I’m looking for larger patterns and this is about the scale of many of my more recent images taken with the Sony RX100.

Pine Swamp beaver lodge

This shot is from the east shore of the main pond looking west. You can see the newly felled tree on the far shore as well as the lodge in the middle. My earlier overview shots were taken from that far hill and the Appalachian Trail is about 200 yards beyond that hill.

Pine Swamp beaver lodge closeup

This shot is from the east shore of the main pond looking west, zoomed in a bit on the lodge.

You can see the newly felled tree on the far shore more clearly here.

What’s interesting about the lodge is that when we first started coming here six years ago it was just a single mound (the lower one on the right) and in the last few years the newer mound on the left was built. We’re not sure why, could be an expanding family or that the old one is not habitable anymore.

For those who don’t know, the beaver swims underwater to enter the lodge and has a platform inside above the waterline. The top is not only branches but mud so it’s water and wind tight. But, the water level is important here: if an upper dam breaks and the water comes up a bit the lodge can have problems and the beaver will have to let excess water out of the main dam by making a spillway. Amazingly, these animals have all of this wired into total control and you can see evidence of this all over this ecosystem, way upstream and downstream. It’s simply mind boggling what they’ve done.

Dave on main dam photographing lodge

This shot is from the east shore of the main pond looking west/northwest.

Dave walked out on the main dam to take a closer look at the loge. We routinely walk across the dam, easier in winter when things are frozen but doable any time of year. Just beyond where Dave is there’s a hole in the ice where the beaver comes up and slides across the dam to get into the lower pond(s). Each dam has a smooth place where beavers traverse.

Ice on Thayer Brook

Ice stalagmites under waterfall

Thayer Brook, Schaghticoke Ridge, Appalachian Trail, Kent, Connecticut. Dave and I took a quick hike south on the AT to shoot ice on this brook. I used both the G15 and RX100 and got a few keepers from each.

These are ice drippings (stalagmites) under a waterfall and while it was tough to shoot these I think this image turned out well as it gives you a sense of the volume of the cones.

Ice hole with ripples and reflection

This was a shallow spot in the brook with holes in the ice so one could see the water running underneath, the bottom, and every now and then, an interesting reflection and/or ripple from the trees around and the rocks underneath.