Photographing water and ice presents unique challenges but also incredible opportunities to show off the myriad properties of water in its many forms, the transparency of ice, reflections of the snowball like clouds in the cold deep blue water acting like a mirror, amazing colour ranges and the interplay of the natural elements how they blend and contrast with the winter surroundings is evident in both the Lake Ontario photo and the Coots Paradise photo. Winter landscapes are beautiful in their own right, but they also furnish “inspiration” in many ways to the Winter Abstract Photographer. The Winter Abstract Photographer takes a cue from Mother Nature who finds a way to dazzle our senses, even in the bleakest of the winter months The final result of the photos can be awe-inspiring to the viewer.
The elements of line, texture, form, colour, composition and geometric solids (square, circle, triangle, cylinder) bring both of these photos to a Still Life Drawing level in art. It is the masterly control of the image and its components that is striking in reflection of the clouds in the Lake Ontario deep blue water and the sunlight gently touching the newly formed Ice at Cootes Paradise but allowing a thin stream of water to flow. This breadth of vision and control by the photographer begins to articulate to others what his own photographic scenes are represented in the images. In the Lake Ontario photo the skies are passing overhead unhindered and the Lake’s history of geological upheaval is revealed in the landscape by the clouds, snow and deep, deep blue clear water as Lake Ontario was formed form a glacier ocean. There appears to be a rhythm of life in these parts, such as, the Mallard ducks swimming on the water.
This breadth, or that quality of execution by the photographer and the camera makes a “whole” to predominate over the parts of the photograph as to excite the idea of uninterrupted unity of nature, the elements and the power of water. In breath, the abstract winter photographer artistically puts us in immediate possession of the “whole” concept, and from that gently leads us to examine the parts of the photograph according to their relative importance. There appears to be a formula for every feature, the trees, snow, blue water, fleeting clouds, reflection of clouds and trees, the sunlight on ice, the dimension and designs of ice, tree and its shadows, and the far-off distant shoreline. The crisp winter air emphasizes the beauty of the luminous clouds in the sky. Constable, the famous artist in his oil-sketches saw beauty in every day scenes. Looking at these photos Constable might find them intensified by dynamism suitable to transfer to canvas with a graphic lead pencil, as he used the pencil point as a brush. Tonal differences are evident in the lighter-toned shadows at Cootes Paradise photo that gives it an atmospheric perspective.
So, at the very first stags of freeze at the edge of Lake Ontario and Cootes Paradise we find newly formed ice designs, or “cool winter abstracts.” It is an interesting artwork created by Mother Nature to be captured in Abstract Winter Photography. These amazing beautiful winter water phenomena are captured with along focal macro lens – 150mm to 200mm – why? Basically, because the photographer will be shooing from the water’s edge of the lake or wetland, and that longer range is required to reach the subject and fill in the frame. Shooting at low angles and using higher f/stops (f/22 to f?32) ranges bring the whole design of the photograph into sharp focus. The photographer surveys the landscape looking for interesting swirling lines and sometimes will come across ice with cool colours. The colours may reflect the brilliance of the blue sky, or brown from leaves under the ice, or yellows form low angle early morning sunlight that enhance winter water phenomena. Nature Photographer, Mike Moats has two interesting books entitled Tiny Landscapes and Finding Character in Nature that give illuminating water photography ideas. And, the photographer’s fingers and toes fall victim to Jack Frost’s wiles, so dressing warmly and protecting from wind chill is essential. Environmental limitations do exist even with a digital SLR Cameras without its film transport mechanisms, motors, solenoids, etc. actuate the mirror and auto focus. So it may be wise to use different focuses. Keeping the battery is a key in winter photography.. But, the tripod with metal legs and especially without handles will extract heat from your skin and possible frostbite can occur. One help is the heated hand warmers to keep fingers nimble when fidgeting with dials on the camera and tripods outdoors. So get out there and photograph the amazing beauty of Winter Water Phenomena in Abstract Winter Photography.
By Doug Worrall
Doug Worrall Photography