From the FieldWinter Sunset over the River Ponds

I’ve always enjoyed photographing water and at times I’ve thought that waterscape photographer would be a better label for me than landscape photographer. In the heat of the summer I’m really drawn to the water and spend quite a bit of time at nearby lakes. In the winter I also find myself photographing at lakes a lot. In the winter it is perhaps more out of convenience, with the shorter days I don’t have as much time to venture as far from home base. Part of photographing around the lakes in the winter (especially this year) is the fact that a lot of birds, including bald eagles, are in the area and concentrated at lakes. Winter usually takes a pretty hefty toll on the landscapes as well and, although still pretty, the world can look a little monochrome this time of year. The lakes on the other hand, can really take on some interesting characteristics in the winter, especially when they freeze over. Beautiful light reflected over water is always mesmerizing, but in the winter the ice on the lakes can have some beautiful shapes and textures. The patterns in the ice are great subjects to photograph.

Winter Sunset over the River Ponds

Frozen Reflections – ISO 100, 10mm, f/11, HDR – various shutter speeds

This photograph was made at the River Ponds area below the dam at Tuttle Creek Lake, an area I visit a lot in the winter. I visited this area hoping to find some interesting ice along the shoreline. The cold weather had formed some thick, broken ice near the shore and interesting patterns farther out in the water where the ice was still forming. The clouds were great and provided some nice interest in the sky and reflections on the ice. The ice along the shore made for an interesting foreground and in this scene I liked the depth provided by the rock frozen in the ice near the shoreline.

Leaf partially frozen in the ice of the River Ponds

Partially Frozen – ISO 100, 10mm, f/13, HDR focus stack, various shutter speeds and focus

This next photo is also at the River Ponds area, but on the opposite side than the first photo as this was a sunrise photograph. I wanted to emphasize the leaf partially frozen into the ice so I had to lie down on the ice next to the leaf (the leaf was only about a foot out from the shoreline). I couldn’t use my tripod so I placed rocks under the lens to keep it still while shooting. I wanted to render the leaf sharp of course but also the rest of the scene. Since I was so close to the leaf, I could not use the hyper focus distance in this case and used a focus stacking technique (combined with HDR to capture the range of light present). I’ll post more details about that later.

Winter scene at Stockdale Cove

Broken Ice – ISO 100, 24mm, f/8, 1/50th

First light with a new camera is always exciting and this next photo is one of my first shots with a new (actually used, but new to me!) full frame camera. I was at Stockdale Cove at Tuttle Creek Lake for sunset. The ice had buckled and moved and created very interesting patterns and textures. The pools of water on the ice created some nice reflections and interesting lines in the composition above.

Ice along the shore at Stockdale Cove

Frozen Waves – ISO 100, 28mm, f/11, 1/6th

The previous photo was made shooting towards sunset (obviously!), and this one was looking back east on that same evening at Stockdale cove. The twilight colors made an interesting contrast to the starker colors of the ice on the lake. It was interesting to me to study where the ice had been pushed up on the shoreline and the surface of the lake looked like a wave had been frozen in place. I’d like to get back out to this area for a sunrise sometime yet this winter and see how the ice along the shore has changed. If the ridges of ice are still there, this could be a great place to make some sunrise photographs.

Winter Sunset at the River Ponds

Light on the Ice – ISO 100, 16mm, f/11, HDR – various shutter speeds

Back to the River Ponds for sunset with this photograph. This was a beautiful evening, temperature wise, and I had arrived quite a bit before sunset so I spent some time just wandering the shoreline. The surface features on the rock in the foreground caught my attention and I decided to just wait at this location and compose some sunset images here. I have ‘itchy feet’, and don’t always have the patience that I would like, so I was a bit proud of myself for just spending some time relaxing and waiting for the light. I will be working on doing more of that in 2015.

Winter Sunset at the Pottawatomie County Lake

White Ice – ISO 100, 16mm, f/8, 1/50th

This last photograph was made at the Pottawatomie County Lake #2 at sunset. I’ve been visiting this lake a lot this year, usually in the morning and usually looking for geese, but this trip was just for some landscape work. Similar to the evening when I made the photo prior to this one, I arrived early and spent some time wandering around looking for compositions and just relaxing. I wanted to create a photograph using lines in the ice leading towards sunset and found several possibilities. A cloud bank moved in and covered most of the sunset, but the sky was still very pretty and the textures formed in the clouds were great. The white ice on the lake reminded me a bit of the clouds in the sky.

So far this winter, the light on the ice has been a lot of fun to photograph. We have had a pretty warm winter for the most part which has made photographing these winterscapes even more enjoyable. The past few days have been really warm with record highs occurring in some places in Kansas so I’ll be interested to get out this weekend and see how the ice has melted. It will also be interesting to see how the ice changes when the cold weather and snow returns this weekend and what photo opportunities are created by the rapidly changing weather.

Please take a moment to view some of my other waterscape images in my “Stillness of Water” and “Energy of Water” galleries.