Cold is a Good Motivator

I’ve just got back from a trip to Banff and Abraham lake in Canada. What an adventure! Not all of it was safe or easy. Winter roads can be quite challenging to drive.

My body was challenged too with the cold that I’ve never experienced before in my life. First day it was -31C. The day after it was -21C which seemed like an improvement but it was slightly windy which made it feel even colder.

On the third night I wake up earlier to photograph sunrise at Abraham lake. The place is popular for photography due to natural phenomenon. The lake freezes up deeply during winter and as freezes up methane bubbles rising from the lake bottom get captured any preserved in the ice creating fantastic three-dimensional structures.

As I got to the lake, to location I explored and decided on the day before. It was cold, very cold. The wind was howling outside rocking my car from side to side. Despite layers and layers of clothes I had on me, once I stepped outside I got cold within seconds.

I immediately got back in the car. I could not convince my body to go outside again. No matter how beautiful sunrise was going to be I could hike to the lake and back in such weather.

As I was faced with this challenged my first reaction was to just sit in the car and watch the sunrise. Then I thought that maybe I should get out of the box and photograph something else. I remembered the trees with a small frozen pond around them with ice shining like a mirror. I drove to that place. It was cold but it was quiet, still, no wind at all. I felt warm and cozy.

That ended up the place where I photographed the sunrise. There were no bubbles in the ice in my photos but the sky was nice and I liked the trees and the frozen pond around them.

In fact, I realized, I’m not that attached to the bubbles in the ice. I’m fascinated with the phenomenon and I like to look at them but I don’t feel emotional connection to the scenes involving them. Thanks to extreme cold and wind that drove me away from the lake I found something of my own, something that I enjoyed more photographically.

Like a Pianist

Recently (four months ago) I bought myself a new camera. Just then I understood just how much my previous camera had become an extension of me. I did not even think about controls, I just thought about picture I want and fingers did all the work.

There was a lot to learn with the new camera. I’ve read thru the manual repeating all the steps that I thought were important to me. I started making photos. I stumbled over and over, had to think about what buttons to press, what dials to turn. Many pictures went straight to trash – they were technically very bad: out of focus, under-exposed, over-exposed.

I kept practicing. I had to re-read parts of the manual because I forgot how to make certain adjustments. At last during the trip to Alberta I noticed that my fingers do all the work automatically again. It was such a pleasant feeling to be in control of the camera again. I somehow think it is similar to how pianist is playing on a piano.

Here is the final set of images from the trip.

Bubbles

The main attraction of the lake by the small town of Nordegg is bubbles caught in the ice. As the lake freezes bubbles of air float up from the bottom of the lake to the surface where they are captured and then enveloped by ice. Those frozen bubbles form amazing surreal three-dimensional structures.

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One Arrow, Many Photos

Just how many photos of the same subject can be made? Apparently a lot.

One of the key locations we photographed on the last trip to Canada was an artificial lake by a tiny town of Nordegg. The winter is bitterly cold their and the lake freezes deep enough to walk on ice. The constant wind blowing over the lake keeps the ice clean from snow. What’s most interesting is air bubbles that rise from the bottom of the lake just to be captured in ice building fantastic three-dimensional structures.

One of such structures was in a form of an arrow. I was so drawn to it that I spent hours photographing it over two days. Coming up with new and new ways to do it. Here is how it looked:

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Now how about using flashlight to highlight part of an arrow? That circle at the head of the arrow seems very attractive:

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How about showing the arrow in the context of the area surrounding it? Let it be the lead to othe bubbles:

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Let’s step further away. How about hiding the arrow in a landscape for a curious eye to find:

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I’ve done much more different photos of the same subject on that trip; they are just not as good.

I guess my point is that I don’t come-see-take a photo. I work with the subject, explore it visually and find many photos of it which eventually dwindles to a few ones I keep.

Let the Flashlight Be

Another example of playing with light. This time it is not at night but at twilight. There was already enough of ambient light and I had to use two flashlights to highlight an interesting bubble structure in the ice.

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