Nailed it this time

Yes, it’s U-shaped, but to the best of my knowledge it’s still a nail. This one is sticking out of the top of a horizontal fence post out by my property, and I’m glad it is. The frost (yes, Rime Ice) on this one is blasting its way eastward.


It looks like a blast, doesn’t it? I mean, literally? Well, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. This was on Day One: the Saturday when we first woke up to spikes of ice and frost attached to everything. Those tended to be more fine, needle-like structures attached to everything. But that was only the beginning.


Fast forward a few days, and we had an entirely different type of ice develop out here. First, it seemed windier. Second, the temperature was different. And the way the ice and frost developed…well, that was entirely different as well.


How would I even describe this? Feather? Sure. Explosive? Definitely. It was something I’ve never experienced before with my camera, and I was absolutely delighted.


Here’s one that’s more natural. If you’ve paid close attention to my frost (Rime Ice) photos so far, you may have noticed the clean backgrounds on most of the shot. That’s no accident. Because the background was typically white, there’s no way I would have achieved the definition I wanted by just pointing my camera and clicking away. Or maybe something else was in the background which would act as a distraction. So how did I solve this problem? I improvised, and made a little experiment out of it.

I have a number of pieces of colored matte board from when I used to frame my own photo prints. I won some art show awards, and I even sold some prints (not enough for that new camera I’ve wanted for six years), but I gave up on that sort of thing long ago. Well, I cut down some various matte boards in a variety of colors and took them with, holding them in the background while I clicked away with a remote shutter release. I like how they turned out, especially considering the alternative. There’s no way I could have captured the detail if I didn’t have a contrasting background to work with. I hope it doesn’t look artificial…but even if it does, in this case I think the detail is worth it.

I still have plenty more frost photos, and I hope to put them out in a themed fashion as well. See you soon!

Pining for more frost photos

Not for the fjords, mind you. I ventured about, searching for a variety of pines, and boy, did I succeed.


I found a variety of pine needle shapes, in a variety of orientations, with a variety of ice formations attached to them. And here we go…


I love the funnel-like cone of some of these. I hadn’t paid such close attention to the pine trees near my place, but I found out rather quickly that they’ve got some really interesting features!


Even among similarly shaped pine branches, I found an assortment of icy spikes on them.


These were so breathtaking, I didn’t even notice how cold it was outside…or how long I’d been standing out in that cold. Didn’t matter.


The orientation of the ice spikes tends to convey a sense of motion, or at least an indication of some bitter wind as they formed overnight.


What I found interesting was how some of the needles were coated in ice, while others were completely unscathed.


Others were barren on one side, but blasted with ice on the other. That makes a wonderful photo like this one possible.


Any guesses which direction the wind was blowing the night before? I’m gonna say from the right side of this photo. Call it a hunch.


Naturally the long-needled pines wanted to get into the game, as well. We can’t let the short-needled guys have all the fun.


There’s something star-shaped about this one which caught my eye. The direction of the spikes seems to convey a rotation of sorts, despite their haphazard directions.


Plastered. It’s hard to tell just exactly what is under all that ice, but trust me: it’s a pine branch.


It’s almost like a hairdo when it’s on one side, isn’t it? This one could be in a punk band, or maybe an eighties New Wave group.


And, with this glorious specimen, I’m spent. At least on the pine photos. I have plenty more frost (yes, Rime Ice) photos yet to come in future posts, but I’m trying to theme each of them. Stay tuned…

Cherry, baby

Never pass up the opportunity to make a Neil Diamond reference. Ever. I’m happy to say that plenty of trees around my place still have these red delights hanging from their branches, and I took advantage of it.


Here’s a big bunch of cherries for y’all – how about those spikes? They’re absolutely glorious. They were so voluminous that they actually lasted for a couple of days on some of the trees.


For instance, this duo. I took this shot a couple of days after the initial frost (yes, Rime Ice) had appeared. You can tell it was wearing thin, but it still remained.


But back to the initial spikes. They look like thorns, they’re so long and sharp! I can’t help but sound like a broken record: these are the finest examples of this phenomenon I’ve ever witnessed.


The geometry of the tree branches, the red of the berries, and the unique nature of the frozen spikes made for days’ worth of photographic fun.


To quote the first Captain America movie: I could do this all day. There was so much going on out there, it was impossible to capture each unique and breathtaking example of such a rare occurrence.


She got the way to move me, as the song says. I couldn’t get enough.


Here, the ice almost obscures the fruit! Even better: it helps illustrate just how incredibly fortunate we were to get a blast of weather like this.


Do your eyes start at the bottom, and follow the geometry of the branch upward, or do they start at the top and work their way to the tip of the branch? I always do the latter…although the branch starting in the upper left may play a factor.


I call this one the Glen Plake Berry. It reminds me of my mohawk. Yes, I had a nineteen inch mohawk back in my 20s. It was part of that decade and a half long “extreme sports” phase which did so much for my psyche and my orthopedic history.

That’s it for now – I’ll have more themed posts coming up for…well, for a while. I worked this occurrence like a rented mule, and I have plenty to show for it. I can’t wait to share more of them!

Christmas came early this year

I’ll continue my series of frost photos by rejoicing in the fact that I haven’t taken down my Christmas lights. They attracted a ton of frost (yes, I know it’s Rime Ice) last weekend and gave it some color to work with!


Orange you glad I was able to shoot photos like this one? Oh, I feel like I’m just getting warmed up with the puns. We got absolutely blasted out by my place. My wife said that it wasn’t as dramatic in town.


I’ve been green with envy in the past when others have had frost photos while I had none. I haven’t take photos like this in many years. The conditions need to be just right, and I need to be available to get out there with my camera.


It was actually pretty tough to get some shots of these bulbs without my gutters and stuff in the background. I wanted a nice, clean background for my frost photos, so I actually picked a corner with some good ones and dug out a ladder so I could contort myself and get these angles.


Moment of confession: I didn’t take my Christmas lights down after 2019’s holiday season wrapped up. And they’re all going strong, even after baking in the sun all summer long. Thankfully they hung in there (one last pun) and provided a wonderful batch of photos!

We now interrupt the frost for a pair of Parhelion photos

I was out early this morning and spotted some sundogs, so after running my errands I decided to roam around in the cold for a bit and capture them with my camera. It’s been a while since I’ve done any photography, so I’ve resolved to take any opportunities which present themselves.

I decided to find a solitary tree or two for some perspective and shadows. Thankfully, I quickly found a pair.

I like this tree better, but I kinda wish I’d framed a little wider to see if there was still a sundog above. Oh well…it’s still like -16F outside, so there’s no way I’m heading back out there. Even though photos like this are where I live “where the air hurts my face.”

Cold as ice

Cold as Rime Ice, that is…although I’m still going to call it frost. I actually predicted it, this time: I knew the weather conditions the night before, I’d decided that they were going to be perfect for this sort of development, and I was one hundred percent accurate the following morning.

When I first ventured out into the yard, I was astonished. I knew we were going to have an event in the morning, but in no way did I expect things to be so absolutely spectacular!

I don’t want to get into a measuring contest of any sort, but check this out! These are some pretty impressive spikes!

I also knew it was going to be cold outside when I wanted to go out and get these shots. Ya know what? It was worth it.

I’ve taken a few photos of this sort of phenomenon before, but only once have I gotten the really spiky type of ice crystals. And even then, they were nothing like this.

Naturally, I had to start close to home. There was just so much cool stuff! I knew I’d have a gold mine with the barbed wire, so I decided to check out some other surfaces around the place first.

It’s nice when you don’t even have to leave your deck in order to find an awesome photo! That made it easier to dart inside and warm up frequently.

X marks the spot. Over the next few days, I picked a lot of spots. I took a plethora of photos, too. I plan to group them into some awesome blog posts to share, too! So hang on, it’s gonna be like the good ol’ days when I used to post on this blog more frequently! At least for a while…

Frost ahead

It helps to know your way around Bismarck, paying attention to street names.

When we had a few days of spectacular frost (or Rime Ice, if you want to get technical) I was actually able to break away for a little bit and get my camera out!

I probably had my camera out of the bag more over the course of these four days than I did in all of 2020, so I’m pretty stoked to be able to present 109 edited photos of this phenomenon! And I’m going to continue to call it frost. The purists out there will have to concede that the difference between the two is in its formation, but the end result is the same: beauty.

Hard core

I spotted this core along Highway 36 a while back. There were actually a couple of them, along with the tracks of the ice fishermen who made them. They looked pretty cool when backlit with the afternoon sun. This one was better than the other, so I decided to give it star treatment.

I don’t think a sump pump will help

Actually, it looks like the water has gone down significantly on this old building, but it’s a total loss nonetheless. It’s been a wet year.

Although I have water behind my property, and the cattails are taller than I am this year, I have yet to experience a drop of water in my basement sump…until recently. I got a pretty significant amount of water in the pit, which I pumped out promptly upon discovering it.

With the ground saturated, the lakes full, the rivers high, the mountains with plenty of snow, and a winter that’s barely even begun yet, I imagine the spring of 2020 should be plenty interesting, indeed.

Bismarck-Mandan area has the best autumn colors (Part 6)

Sadly, this autumn has been brief, cold, and gray…and I’ve been way too busy to get out. But last year was perhaps the best photo fall I’ve ever had. Worth reposting. Six posts in all, I believe. Here’s the sixth.

Digging deep for one last blast of fall photos. This one is from the beginning of fall, when leaves were just beginning to turn. I noted the appearance of that first little patch of orange in the background.


This tree had green and orange bursting forth. What an amazing sight!


One more shot into the valley…looking toward the Square Buttes from north of Bismarck.


This is at the Crown Butte Dam on my way home from a long and particularly productive photo roaming day.


Final photo of the night and of this series. The moon was up, the sun was going down, and I revisited this old automobile camping out under a hilltop tree. It was the perfect conclusion to a very therapeutic day of roaming.

That’s it for foliage photos, but I have tons of additional North Dakota shots to share. Stay tuned!