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Jan. 7, 2006
The 20-degree nights have been a little scarce this winter, but when the Friday night forecast called for a low in the twenties, I thought Saturday morning might be a good time to hike up Leatherwood Creek to see if some pools I shot last January were doing anything interesting this year.
So we were up and away early enough to make it to the Ponca bridge by about daybreak for the short walk up to the Junie break, where the creek runs on top of a long slab of bedrock for awhile and then drops about four or five feet. When the creek's up, that drop makes for a pretty little waterfall, but when the water is low, the rock bottom behind the falls has some depressions in it where water will often collect, and since the pools are quite small and still, they readily freeze in cold weather.

When we arrived this morning I was disappointed to see that the pools were choked with leaves, and I and almost decided to keep on hiking in hopes of finding something better to shoot farther on. But after looking around and looking close for a few minutes I started seeing possibilities, and after looking at things from the right angles, I broke out the camera gear and started shooting.

There are several keys to shooting surface ice like this, in case there is anyone else in the world who might want to. The most important one is to shoot from a low angle so you can get contrast and interesting light into the image. Unfortunately, shooting from a low angle also means that a pretty ridiculously small aperture is required to get sufficient depth of field. Most of the time for these images I was working in the f/32 to f/45 range.

Another key is to realize that moving the camera even a few inches up or down or left or right can drastically change the light that is being reflected from a given spot. So angle is everything, because light is everything, and to get the best image takes looking at all the angles and finding the best one, and then looking again.

And on a good morning, you're apt to get widely varying light as clouds move around and get lit up by the sun, and if you're really lucky you'll have some kindly clouds that will cut back the sun some even after it rises above the hills to the east. So you will have the opportunity to shoot your subjects under wildly varying lighting conditions. The last couple of images on this page were illuminated partly by sunlight bouncing off the beech trees and the leaf-covered hillside on the west side of the creek.

Today's back light was taken a few years ago a little farther up Leatherwood Creek in Ferny Canyon.