Ice is best with Light

With most things in photography the presence and absence of light plays a big role in the telling of the overall story. It add drama, contrast, mystique, softness and many more adjectives to every image. When working with reflective surfaces, such as ice, watching where the light falls is crucial. Ice shares another unique characteristic which is it absorbs light. Since ice is often transparent and seen through, everything beneath the ice that the light is falling on can be seen. Thus creating not only depth but pockets of light and dark.


When you have direct overhead light it tends to feel rather warm when looking at snow, because snow and ice are very white. It bounces that light around. A great instance of this is when working with large game and the animal is standing in snow. Even on a bright sunny day with harsh shadows, the snow will act as a reflector and bounce light in to the animal. Well the the same theory works with landscapes.


Thus in the presence of shadows or flat light, ice and snow instantly feel cold. The image becomes less about the contrast between light and dark and more about the pattern of the snow and ice.


The truly powerful images are the ones that can balance these attributes together creating the idea of the cold along with that of the warmth of the sun. When working with rivers, streams and lakes sometimes it’s better to not focus on capturing the whole scene but capturing that one small snip-it of where the frozen world meets the light.

Images Captured with Nikon D4, on Lexar UDMA digital Film

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