Ice Is Nice!

Good news, Everyone! It’s officially the month that we transition to spring, and daylight saving time is just a week away. Oh wait, that’s not news. You guys all knew that. How about this: we have tolerable temperatures in our forecast! Now that’s good news!

Lest you think I’ve been melodramatic about the weather, here’s a brief history: Since we moved here in 2010, the average high in February has hovered in the 20’s. This year we averaged a high temperature of 9.6F, and almost half of the month had days with double-digit-below-zero lows – including several days near -30F. That’s cold, friends. Not fun to try to walk a dog in.

Thankfully, the past two Saturdays (and Sunday this weekend) we have been blessed with seasonable temperatures. Because it has been so brutally cold, the 23F we played in over the weekend felt positively spring-like. I suppose a 50-degree swing upwards will do that πŸ˜‰

snow on the ice

We weren’t the only people out basking in the late winter sun. Tony and I headed up the Leelanau coast yesterday just to see what things were looking like, and ended up joining a small crowd out on the lake.

Yep, way out on the lake.

Occasionally, we’d cross a place where the snow had blown clear of the surface. Because the water below is so deep, it mostly looks dark green as you look through the ice, but you can see bubbles frozen in the ice that is probably two feet thick.

The crazy cold has at least been good for something πŸ˜‰ That thick ice out on Lake Michigan is probably strong enough to drive on, but offshore winds have piled some of it up in incredible luminous blue-green masses.

people for scale

With the blue skies and blue ice, it was a photographer’s paradise.
me-on-ice

Some of the ice is clear, some of it is crackly, some of it is milky, some of it is all three of these things, and all of it is spectacular. It is also incredibly slippery.

A couple of icy vignettes. I included my hand (touching the same ice) after each one for scale.


Enough other mammals had trekked on the surfaces that it was a Petey paradise, too.

I had grand designs on a coastal sunset, but we had been out in the wind long enough that the Little Pete Dog was starting to act cold. He wasn’t shivering, but he was being a pull-monster on his leash, and he was half tucking his tale. We might be foolhardy at times, but we’re not dumb πŸ˜‰ We packed it in, but did not call it a day. (More ice coming soon!)

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25 thoughts on “Ice Is Nice!

    • It sure looks wonderful! Two days earlier and there’s no way I’d have been outside. In fact, I wasn’t πŸ˜‰
      Thanks for pausing to read, look, and comment!

    • It has been another interesting winter, that’s for sure! I have a friend in Oregon (betting your story is similar) who has enjoyed a very mild winter. And here we are having record-breaking cold and ice pile-ups that haven’t been seen in decades. If it’s going to cold, at least it’s also cool πŸ˜‰

    • Thanks Dale! And don’t I know it! We contemplated (before the weekend) whether to go out Saturday or Sunday. Glad we chose yesterday. We did end up out hiking today, too, but it’s hard to compare to that ice.

  1. Almost shocking to see this. Gorgeous stuff that make me think of Greenland! A friend of mine took a hike yesterday at a ski area across from Mount Hood. The slopes were bare! Forecast calls for highs in the mid sixties later this week in Portland. Hope you get some warmth soon. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks for the wishes Josh – I think they’re actually working πŸ˜‰ We won’t see any 60’s soon, but I am actually very happy with 20’s and 30’s. Such a juxtaposition this year in our winters. I hope you guys don’t end up with forest fires because of your warm, dry one.
      That blue ice is just something else. It really does feel like stepping into a parallel universe; like something so ethereal couldn’t possibly be in my mundane world.

  2. Dear Heather
    You know that I adore your pictures and most of the time I’m wondering how you do that. For example 2015/03/crackly-ice.jpg, when I take pictures against the sun, they are all brown.
    I hesitate to say that we had the first real sunny day yesterday with 11 degrees Celsius (51F) and I did intensive gardening work so that I can hardly move my arms this morning.

    • I know just the kind of gardening you’re talking about! I am sure I will experience similar immobility after our first thaw. It’s like you just don’t know when to quit – your body surely gives you signals that now would be a good time to take a break, but then you see something that must be taken care of right now. Hope you feel better soon!
      As for the photos, there’s probably not a simple answer. But I’m happy to discuss the long one if you’re interested in learning! First, it should be noted that I’m shooting with the Nikon d7100 most of the time, and I always shoot in raw. Let me know what you want to know from here πŸ™‚

      • Thanks, Heather, for your wishes. I have already recovered from the stiff muscles in my arms. It’s as you said, on a day like that, we want to finish so that we are happy to have done everything that needed to be done. πŸ™‚
        I’ve got a Pentax D200 (all I could effort back then) and I’m happy so far with my pictures, but the against the sun ones are always brown, like this one:

        If you could give me the Exif data from that picture (as sample) and your position on the camera (P, SV or …) I would test it next time when the sun has got a similar position here.

        • OMG, I didn’t know that my picture is shown, I only pasted the link. Please take it off, it’s an affront for your marvellous pictures πŸ™‚

          • There are no bad photos – only ones we can learn to improve upon πŸ™‚ Check my early archives if you don’t believe me – I cringe when I look at posts from 4 years ago!

        • Glad to hear your recovery is going well πŸ™‚
          What I see in your picture is that your camera is aiming to try to expose the sky decently, leaving the foreground completely dark – which means that you’re having a metering issue. I’d check your manual (if you don’t still have it, you can probably find it online as a PDF), and probably choose a matrix metering option.
          Next – the color. I’m not sure what color the sky was when you made this image, but you might consider checking your camera’s white balance. If it’s on auto, the camera might “see” that you’re making an image of a bright sun and “think” that your sky must be all the colors of a sunset. If it was actually bright daylight, you can try to set your white balance to “daylight” or perhaps “cloudy,” which are cooler Kelvin temps than a warm sunset, and would likely make your image more blue than this.
          Getting into the EXIF, I shot all the sunburst images at f/22, mostly at ISO 200, and varying shutter speeds to get a correct exposure (based on a matrix style metering), but mostly 1/60-sec. I didn’t carry my tripod, and I was using a polarizer. However, you can only get a sun-star if there aren’t clouds in front of it, so if you’ve got clouds diffusing your sunlight, you wouldn’t bother with such a tiny aperture. I’d aim for f/8, ISO 100, and whatever shutter speed gets you a good exposure – maybe 1/100-sec? Oh – I always shoot in M – unless the settings I’ve got are wildly different from something that catches my eye and I don’t have time to meter. Then I’ll switch to an automatic mode and let the camera decide πŸ˜‰

          • Thank you so much for these information. I copied them and will go through them step by step.
            Actually, that picture was made on a early morning in April, sunrise, near River Thames, sky was blue grey. I suppose you are right with “auto” and sun. I will test this asap.

  3. With every season comes beauty and you do such a great job of capturing it. I confess to preferring spring and fall beauty however, at least to be out in.

    • I agree with you about spring and fall, and I am so looking forward to spring. Though, I’ve certainly said before that each season is my favorite as it approaches. Well, maybe not spring. Spring might be my favorite more towards the middle of the season. And we all know I’m no fan of winter’s intro/outro. But I do have a great time exploring in the winter, so long as temperatures are survivable.

  4. Spectacular. Saw a piece (don’t remember the network) on ice caves again off your shore. Pretty cool. (literally I guess!) Katie and I enjoyed being out yesterday in 20 something temps too. Wonderful!

    • Amazing how much easier it is to get the business done at 20F than -20F πŸ˜‰
      I was kinda hoping to see some ice caves, but I was obviously not disappointed with the ice. I’d love to get up to Grand Island in Munising, but that’s not in the cards this winter. Maybe next weekend it’ll be ice caves. Either way, I think it’s supposed to be “warm,” so I’ll be happy!

  5. So awesome! I would have been squealing with delight. You’ve captured some real beauties here. Putting your hand in for scale was a good idea, it really gives perspective. My favorites are of Petey through the ‘glass’ and the other with a rainbow caught on the edge of a slab. Well done!

    • Thank you! We were squealing with delight πŸ™‚ My husband kept finding me (he was keeping watch on Petey who we weren’t letting run wild in that leg-breaking territory) to point out things I had to see. So cute and not “manly.” I have so many photos – people on FB/instagram are going to get tired of them.

  6. Those slabs of ice are awe-inspiring. I’d hate to stand way out on a frozen lake and peering into dark green bubbly depths would be terrifying. I figure I have a phobia of deepness (is there a word for it? I have a feeling you’d know πŸ˜‰ )

    • In some ways it is terrifying. But it’s also exhilarating, and I suspect you’d do it if given the chance πŸ˜‰
      I’m not sure there’s a specific word for fear of deepness, but thalassophobia is fear of open water. And though our evolutional history has kind of pre-disposed us all to be afraid of dark, murky water, there is no term for that either. Perhaps because phobias are supposedly irrational, and that one is quite rational πŸ™‚

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