February 23: I’m still catching up posting saved images. Bear with me.
The millpond spent little time frozen this winter. By mid-February, it thawed on many days then refroze during below-freezing nights. Along one edge of the ice, large pieces of ice broke free from the main ice but refroze before they could float away (above). Also on this day someone tossed large, heavy chunks of ice onto the frozen pond (right). Those chunks didn’t come from the pond itself. I wonder where they were lugged from, but there’s no way to find that out.
When thrown, some of the chunks shattered into tall and narrow shards called candles (below) that form under certain conditions as ice begins to break up in late winter.
February 14: Three days ago, about half of the Brighton millpond was still covered with a thin layer of ice. It’s now a thing of the past. I’ve failed to post these shots before winter (probably) became old news. Sorry about that.
Taken almost a month ago, these shots were all taken at Brighton’s millpond dam where ice builds up above the moving water. At a time when there is little else to photograph, I spend more time at the dam that usual because the ice is almost always interesting. I enjoy the beaded edges of the ice “shells” – ice domes created while water splashes below them.
Winter still has a chance of paying us a visit before mid-April arrives. We often get a heavy snowfall then. It’s Ms. Nature’s way of pranking us. We hope she’s too busy with other tasks this year.
A shiny new submerged shopping cart, geese, ducks, snow flurries, and frozen water that looks more like waxed paper than ice. All together it has an surreal quality, don’t you think? The new cart is from the Meijer store a quarter mile away and arrived with its glossy blue enamel still intact last November. Four months in the water has surely rusted the steel. Vandals had to lift it above the boardwalk railing to toss it into the pond. They must be proud of their achievement if they remember doing it.
The thin ice formed during the night and broke into a puzzle of large chunks with smooth edges. The weight of wildfowl pushed down one side so the other slid over the piece beside it. By Monday when fifty degree weather returns, it will melt again. Hopefully for the last time this winter.
Last fall, workmen repaired and then repainted the fire escape on Brighton’s Old Town Hall, now the CoBACH Center. As a result of our recent snowstorm, ice melting on the roof was captured by the shiny escape steps before it reached the ground.
The geometric shapes of the black counter-weighted stairs juxtaposed with the clear icicles as they caught afternoon light caught my eye. I suppose the counter-balanced steps might slowly swing to the ground if the ice becomes too heavy …
… but there’s little chance of that happening since Sunday will bring rain and temps in the 50s.
They look like snowmobile tracks coursing across the pond, but the ice is still too think to support vehicles. Each line has a crack at its center which you can see in the top image. Anyone know an iceologist? Just like the ice circle I posted a few days ago, I have no idea how the cracks cause the much-wider lines. It doesn’t appear water has come up through the cracks to turn the dusting of snow into ice.
It’s probably one of the many mysteries that won’t be answered on this blog. Maybe someone will leave a comment with a full explanation. I’d love to hear it!
Thin ice can be dangerous but it can also be beautiful. Our warm winter has kept the millpond ice-free until the last couple of days. It’s translucent instead of transparent because its surface is covered in tiny imperfections. Light from surrounding street lamps and walkway lanterns blurs when it’s reflected off the surface. I arrived at the pond just before dark last night and caught a little light in the sky before it ran westward to end our day.
Dark and blurry, trees are reflected in the thin ice near the gazebo (below).
Bubbles form under the thin ice.I imagine they are fro still-growing planting on the bottom of the pond (below).
Stories frozen in the ice can remain mysteries all winter. Below, I think a Canada goose decided to play icebreaker while trying to get to the shore. Either the ice got thicker so it supported the goose’s weight or it took flight before it reached the edge because its trail abruptly ended.
You’ve heard of Crop Circles. I guess we have Pond Circles, too. The ice is thin on the millpond and several large circles (10′ or more) have appeared in the light coating of snow. The cause? I’m clueless. Maybe there are small springs in the shallow water that raise the temperature a degree or two? Perhaps a grain of salt or other foreign matter melts the snow.
The small swimming area kept open by the ducks near the Brighton dam has some interesting ice formations. The ducks splash about and the water laps up onto the edge. Before it can drip back into the pond, it freezes into beads that catch the light of my flash. It’s one of the more beautiful phenomena of winter in our monotone world.
The older I get, the less I enjoy winter. Since I must endure it, I do my best to explore what it brings. Here are two recent winter encounters:
November 28: A square foot of millpond surface ice broke from the frozen edge and headed toward the crest of the dam. I waited until it was halfway over the edge to snap the shutter. My timing nailed it. Because of my shutter’s delay, I’m not usually as lucky.
November 19: The millpond water hovers around freezing so, when it splashes into the air as it goes over the dam, it immediately freezes when it lands on nearby objects. On this evening when the air temp was in the low 20s, a tree branch collected ice on its tip a foot above the cascade. A 6″ ice lollipop formed that swayed in the torrent. I didn’t lick it. We have lollipops made by hand in Brighton that taste much better than those flavored with a hint of duck excrement. Visit Oh My Lolli for the delicious ones.
March 11: Rain cleared areas of the pond of its snow cover so we could see into the still-thick ice. At 6-10″ thick, it will still take a long time for it to melt. Some oaks retain their leaves all winter and release them as days warm. The pond is dotted with them. They skid around in breezes and are a zagged, leathery opaque counterpoint to the slick transparent ice sheet.
March 27: Toward the end of March, longer days and clearer skies warmed the piers elevating the boardwalks along the millpond trail. Though the daytime temperatures remained below freezing, the slight increase in heat on the piers melted the snow in circles around them. Ragged edges of the retreating ice caught my eye. Shooting at night enhanced the contrast between the dark water and the ice that reflected my camera’s flash.
Hardware on the boardwalks gives these images an eery edge, a combination of natural and manmade shapes with foreboding light. We wonder; is that light on the front of an approaching craft or held in the hand of an enemy?
The above picture is for my Australian friend who doesn’t live where ice forms on ponds. I want her to see how one can judge the thickness of ice by looking for vertical fractures like the one shown here that arcs across the image. While it would be easier to see if the ice wasn’t pebbled , it’s still possible to tell the ice is about six inches thick in this shaded area. In other places, it’s wafer thin. Its thickness is determined by speed of the water flowing under it, exposure to sun, depth, and the activity of waterfowl and muskrats.
As the ice deteriorates, impurities within it determine the rate just as much as the amount of sun it receives and the temperature of days and nights. At right, ice directly below a millpond boardwalk begins to show signs of its demise and the monochrome patterns are often interesting and painterly.
Cold nights bring a thin layer of black ice onto the Brighton millpond then sunny days melt it again. This will continue until we have a hard freeze or a series of gray days that give the ice time to thicken enough to combat sunshine.
You’d think the freeze and thaw cycle, would give the ducks time to adjust to waddling across it, but they approach the “black ice” tentatively. It’s comical to watch. Their claws don’t give them any traction so they skate, their feet fly in all directions and many endure ungraceful tumbles. I saw the always dignified SweetPea land on her tushie and Duke has a horrible time getting his feet under his large body after a fall. Tiny Frick (top right) doesn’t have far to fall because of her short legs, but she has a devil of a time dodging the bigger ducks that pick on her.
It’s great photographing ducks at night in the water or on ice because the flash reflects off of the surface and partially illuminates the underside of them (photos above). But when the ice is thin, the ducks run a risk of having it break under their combined weight as they pose. The ice usually gives them little warning as it slowly sinks (below left), but sometimes a loud snap as it cracks (below right) makes them explode into the air! (Maybe it’s time for me to create another duck ballet for them.)
Against the background of black ice, the late afternoon’s blue sky turned to indigo (above) while the crystals inside the bubbles catch sunlight and scatters it in all directions.
When the sun is near the horizon, its light scrapes across the surface and illuminates individual snowflakes waiting for a breeze to scoot them across the smooth surface. Perfectly round as well as irregularly shaped bubbles as large as a foot across are embedded in the ice only a quarter-inch under the surface (below). In other spots, the bubbles may be several inches beneath the surface or stacked in successive ice layers. A video titled “Ode to Ice” on ScienceFriday.com explains how oxygen is forced out of water as it freezes and can either fill the ice with microscopic bubbles or create perfectly clear slabs depending upon conditions (5:26 minutes. Explanation of bubbles in ice at about 2:30).
Here are three other examples of bubble gardens on the Brighton millpond. They aren’t great photos but show different bubble patterns along the millpond trail.
The shapes created by the freezing and thawing of the pond ice have generated incredible swirls, veils, and waves. Here are three additional images. The one in the lower left has a pinkish hint from the nearby street lamps. I attempted to remove the color but, when I did, some of the tonal variations went with it so I’ve left it as is. These patterns may be enhanced or lost in days to come as the temperatures are expected to rise. More images will be posted tomorrow.
By this time last year, the millpond had been frozen for more than a month if I remember it correctly. This year, the temperatures have fluctuated wildly. The water hovers around freezing so ice forms at night and melts in the next day’s sunlight. Two days ago, temperatures fell dramatically, but they are expected to rise just as dramatically by the end of this week so we might have open water again.
The sudden shifts have created ice on the millpond with incredible patterns. I’ll be posting many of them in the next few days. Other than some reflections of my camera’s flash on tiny surface bumps, all of the patterns you see here are embedded within the ice. The darkest colors are “black ice” that forms when no tiny bubbles are captured while it’s forming. There is no open water in any of the images. All were photographed at night so some are grainy. I’ve enhanced some in Photoshop to remove tints from street lights, brightened them, and strengthened the contrast a little, but I haven’t altered the actual patterns. Nature created them all by herself. :-)
Two days of below freezing daytime temperatures have left a layer of thin ice on the Brighton millpond’s areas of still water. It won’t last. In the coming week, a warm front will melt it all. Within weeks, however, the ice will form again and remain for the duration of the winter months.
One bay is currently filled with these interesting patterns. If I hadn’t already given you some information, I doubt you would have any idea what they were. They could be objects seen under a microscope or pen-and-ink doodles since there is no indication of their scale in these images. They are actually 2-3 feet across. What created them? My first thought was that the plentiful muskrats had pushed their snouts through the thin ice when swimming under it and then ice had reformed in these air holes. But they are so numerous that I doubt that’s their cause.
Here’s my dubious theory: Leaves are swept onto the ice by breezes. The sun beats on these dark objects and warms the ice just enough to melt under them so the leaf sinks and then ice reforms where they were. That doesn’t explain the branching, however. Isn’t it interesting how perfect it is, how it radiates from the holes and has consistent branch angles? There are at least 100 of these branched patterns in the bay south of the Stillwater Grill.
The ice on the millpond is a foot thick. Along the boardwalks, where snow doesn’t stick, you can see bubbles suspended in the ice at different levels. Like rings in a cross section of a tree, the bubbles tell the history of this winter’s nights: a layer of ice forms then gases from decaying vegetation rises to be trapped under it. The next night, ice forms around that bubble and builds its thickness downward. Night after night, more bubbles are formed in varying thicknesses of ice. Some bubbles are large, others the size of pin heads.
The top image is a rich mixture of bubbles, cracks and textures. The colors of vegetation can be seen through the ice in some areas. Combined, it’s a beautiful, visually rich composition. Below, the photograph was taken at a sharper angle so you can see how the largest bubbles randomly stack up while tiny bubbles form vertical trails from top to bottom in the clear ice.
Still photography doesn’t do this scene justice. That’s why I shot a 12 second video so you could see it in action. Just below the falls at the Brighton millpond, ice encases the small rapids. There are some holes in this ice so you can see the moving water surrounded by the scalloped edge of the ice. These images were taken near dusk.
I’m sure there’s a scientific explanation for it, but I can’t figure it out. The ice under the Tridge remains snow free while the rest of the pond is covered in a few inches. I first noticed this last year and attributed it to two factors: If there is no wind when the snow falls, it doesn’t reach this protected area, and the Tridge must warm significantly on sunny days to melt any snow that accumulates there. Now, I’m not sure my theory is correct. We’ve had a solid month of below freezing temps where the Tridge couldn’t possibly collect enough sunlight to warm the ice 4-6 feet below it yet the ice remains snow free and dark. Baffling.
In the transition zone between snow covered and clear ice, I see patterns like this image. They could be mistaken for stars raining down from the Milky Way.
Like the Itsy Bitsy Spider who begins again in the children’s song, following the thaw, splashes from the rushing water begin to create the ice tunnel at the millpond dam again. Ice adheres to the rocks when it can and the continuing splashings smooth the ice as it grows. Note the “lobster claw” shape of the ice in these two pictures. I have no idea what natural forces created it.
Ice now shields the millpond dam. Just an “eye” (center right) reveals the moving water underneath the frozen tunnel. If I were a Matte Painter and asked to create fantastic worlds, I’d use the shapes I see in these ice mounds as points of departure. Below, I’ve taken a section of the above photo and delineated the interlocking organic forms. They could be an alien world buried deep in the Earth.
Here are two more close ups of Brighton Falls. These show how the ice slowly builds spherical globes because the water continually washes over them so they remain smooth and clear. While I’m not a fan of winter, at least we have ice and snow altering the landscape in various ways. Without them, we’d have several months where nothing grows or changes under what is often a uniformly gray sky.
I’ve transformed this color photograph into a black and white shot to emphasize the textures in the water and ice. This shot is a view of the falls similar to one I took in September but the two sides of the falls (top and bottom in the picture) are now joined in a frozen arc only inches above the cascade. In the darker water (left) you can see reflections of Holiday lights strung on a tall evergreen. On the right side, you see moving water after it’s reached the rocks below the foot-tall falls. Soon, that area will be concealed as the ice tunnel builds.
You’ve seen Brighton Falls at Words4It many times now, but not this close up. Winter arrived late, but it’s kept us below freezing for more than a week now. The millpond path hasn’t had a chance to lose its snow cover and ice has built up at the dam. Last year, I photographed the Ice Tunnel and thought it was an unusual happening. Not so. It’s already forming a month earlier this year but with its own unique patterns.
Both of these shots are at the top of the dam and show the clear, globular edge of the ice overhanging the falling water. The ice catches the light from my flash and creates patterns like those found in thick lead crystal. In the days ahead, I’ll show you other images from the falls so you can see its beauty.
Just a few days ago, the millpond ice was thin and black. It froze quickly overnight and captured many bubbles. The ones in the top image are an inch or two in diameter, but the one below is very large, about 10-12″ across. The tiny white dots in these images are imperfections in the ice surface along with some flecks of snow.
Within the past few days, Yale researchers have provided evidence that there may be three times as many stars as we’ve been lead to believe. In hearing that news, it made me realize that these two images could be images from deep space instead of shallow water. Mine only lack the blur of the brightest stars, but Photoshop could fix that. Compare them to this image at NASA’s web site.
Wake Up / Stay Up Tonight: A few hours before dawn on December 14th, you might see more than 100 meteors per hour during the annual Geminid meteor shower. I hope you have clear skies and a chance to see some fireworks.
Ah. Photography for photography’s sake. Here are two views of the same thing from different angles. Don’t look at them for what they are. Look at them just as visual experiences. I think both of these images are beautiful just because they are lush mixes of textures even though they are essentially black and white. There’s lacy ice, mounded ice, granular ice, black ice, branching scars, thin and thick ice, and a smattering of broken crackers thrown to unappreciative ducks. Both images have larger counterparts that hover around 600k but they are worth downloading if you would like to take visual excursions through them.
The ice has separated from the edge of the pond and floated upward. The pond now contains an iceberg! The ice is about 10″ thick and its edge is thinner so it’s actually suspended above the waterline. Consequently, the bottom of it catches light. The above image is done at night with my flash. The one below is done with natural light at dusk so it has a tinge of pink along with the blue-gray sky.
The ice is about a foot from shore so I kicked it with my boot to clean off the surface crud. In so doing, I discovered the ice is now a multitude of vertical fractures probably caused by its expansion and contraction throughout the winter. You can see shards floating in the water, all of them similar in shape and size. In the lower image, note the top surface. you can see how the vertical fractures have shattered the ice sheet’s integrity. I wonder why it still holds together. Click either one to see its larger image.
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