Something to blog about

The eastern half of the US has been experiencing some harsh weather of late and this has provided a bit of photographic fodder. I began my search for cold weather photos by taking a look at ice flows on Pine Creek; then I thought that ice-coated trees along the Susquehanna might be promising. As it turned out, neither of these possibilities produced anything that I liked particularly well. In frustration, I took the camera with me up the mountain after chores on Saturday. I knew the water was moving in Tarkhill Run and my first thought was to construct a cairn, something I have done before to good effect I think. I walked up the hill, found a photogenic place in the watercourse and quickly assembled a small cairn. When I looked through the viewfinder however, I was disappointed; the construction seemed trite. My feeling of frustration increased for I knew that more bad weather was coming and conditions would deteriorate significantly, and soon. I walked along and looked for something, anything, to photograph. I was annoyed, there was a hole in my left boot and with each step it would open and let in a bit of supercooled water. To improve my outlook the dry part of my sock was wicking moisture up my leg and my jeans were getting wet. I was getting cold. I kept walking. In an instant I became aware of things which had previously been invisible to me. I began to notice little things, very little things. The large things, the stream and the surrounding wood, had disappeared and I was blind to all but the details. I was especially aware of ice which had formed along the banks and on emergent rocks, twigs, sticks and tree trunks. The level of the run had fallen, slowly, over the days since the last snow melt and this fact could be discerned in the particular form of the frozen encrustations. Upon striking a stationary object, the rushing water launched into the air and droplets would solidify on the frozen substrate upon which they landed. As the level of the run dropped, the trajectory of the droplets would change and this added a terrace to the accumulating sculpture. The effect of this phenomenon is apparent in the two larger images below. I spent quite a while watching the ice shown in the third image before I captured it with the camera. It reminds me of fingers, reaching across the surface of the water. This particular formation, and ones like it, were found in small pockets of quiet water which pulsed synchronously, quietly, with the rushing waters nearby. The calmer water allowed the very thinnest membranes of ice to form as crystals were recruited into the growing lattice with each successive wave. In much the same way that each and every snowflake is unique, because of the stochastic nature of crystal formation, the possibility for photographic novelty in the run on this day was endless. I was delighted, and relieved. I took 133 images in 36 minutes and then a little voice (Joanna’s) told me that I was cold and should crawl out of the water, make my way home, change my socks, and spend some time by the wood stove … and so I did.

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