After the temperatures finally dropped to proper levels for January, it was time for another serendipity walk in the lightly frozen landscape.
Usually I know when I have taken a decent photo. This time, I was not sure. When the warming sun came out, the reflections of the light and the doubly layered images of ice and ground beneath created unusual opportunities.
Thawing is a violent process. This has never been made as visceral as in Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Solaris, in the scene where the visitor thaws.
There, it’s the likeness of the alien that frightens. Here, the familiar shapes of leaves become alien when superposed with the fragile patterns of the ice that still covers them.
There is a strange esthetic appeal in this violence, a desire to explode, and come to life.
Not yet. It’s January still.
This has been an extraordinary summer. Weather wise, flooding rain falls were followed by torching heat, and now we are enjoying a dry summer weather that would be more typical for Northern Michigan. Time for a visit to the DePauw Nature Park, whose quarry enclosed space I would avoid on regular summer days.
It’s as green as it gets, promising a gorgeous fall coloring. Everything seems to take advantage of its given time and space.
The abundance of vegetation creates patterns that are unusual for this place.
More typical are the lonely little ones, like the young sycamore trying to make roots in the harsh ground,
or the singular dandelion, gazing into our future.
My daughter always says I don’t experiment enough, so I borrowed one of her prism filters and played around with them a little.
These are not the usual screw on or slide in filters, but large, chunky pieces of glass that you hold in front of the lens to break the light.
This way you can get, depending on sunlight and scenery, all kinds of colorful effects, reflections (from the back), and unexpected distortions.
The filter I used was circular with a ring of smaller facets around the center, making it better suitable for portraits than landscape. As usual, there was nobody else around.
Above you see the effect of reflections, and below a circle of trees refracted at the outer facets.
This will clearly require some more praxis…
Heavy flooding followed by a deep freeze without any snow fall left the floor of the quarry in the DePauw Nature Park in a perfect state to study everything frozen.
Last week we took care of the plant life under ice, today we enjoy the even more abstract world of ice, rock, and air.
Usually we think of frozen surface water as relatively thin, tw-dimensional layer of homogeneous white ice. Here, the few inches fo water were frozen solid and provided an unusual view into a short-lived world.
Of course the rocks and ice structures where already pretty, but streams of frozen air bubble provided a three-dimensional appearance that I hadn’t seen before.
What else is there when we don’t look?
When you stand there looking at stuff, inevitably people stop and look, too (the major cause of traffic jams). This time, I drove the other lone hiker away by claiming that through shear conecentration, I would make the icicles fall. As it was way above freezing, I had not much to do for a proof…
More serious was the encounter with the quarry warden who had been driving in his little electric cart forth and back along the rim trail, trying to clear the ice that had caused the responsible people to close the trail (it wasn’t that slippery).
He had evidently spotted me down in the quarry, off trail, wading over frozen ponds, crouching down and using weird equipment.
It took him 20 minutes to get to me. He turned out to be harmless, so I decided to pretend the same.
I started talking about how the bubbles and the ice crystals had begun to emulate the shape of the frozen plants, and I was wondering whether there were any special spirits behind it. Off he went, leaving me alone with my little world.
If I suddenly stop blogging, chances are somebody has seen through me.
Using a macro lens with 5-fold magnification is an odd experience. The usual, somewhat trivial “workflow” for taking a picture: Look-Frame-Capture doesn’t apply, because one doesn’t see what one might get until one is really close.
This time I was erring around in DePauw’s Nature Park’s quarry with its fascinating ground. How could I predict that the lump of greenness that has survived the recent cold spell here is up close a fully active miniature ecosystem, collecting and preserving water for nutrition and climatization?
To see what you see here with the naked eye you’d need a magnifying glass.
The depth of field is of course abysmal, and I don’t usually have the patience to stack (at least) a dozen images.
It’s good to know that there is a small world unfazed by the machinations of the big guys.
What are blurred images good for?
Are they just there to cover up blemishes of reality or the lack of skills of the photographer?
Or is having more information always better? Shouldn’t at least something be in focus, always?
Or better, everything, with absolute clarity, so that nothing is hidden and no question remains?
Sometimes, I think, it is necessary to reconsider everything.