Loopy for frost photos

I’ll warn you now: this post is entirely about…well, this post. Period. I spent a lot of time here on two separate days: first to get the really fine, spiky ice formations on the post and barbed wire, second to get the blasted ice of the following round of foggy cold.


First off, some color. Remember, it was a white, foggy day when I went out to this part of the fence. That doesn’t work well when you’re trying to capture the detail in the little spikes of frost (yes, Rime Ice) on the wire. In fact, the first photo in this post is the only one where I had a dark enough background to be able to discern the tips of the frost by way of contrast. So I chose to improvise in the interest of getting more definition.


The fine detail on Day One was absolutely stunning. Why wouldn’t I want to do everything in my power to be able to capture it?


Almost has a “crown of thorns” thing going on…doesn’t it? This is a blend of natural texture (the post) and matte in the background, so you can get a feel for how spiky this ice really is. It was like little white needles – or thorns.


Same shot, matte held closer. I love the contrast. I’ve always been one for a healthy dose of contrast, and I believe I owe that to my background in broadcasting. High definition – and now HDR – video doesn’t suffer from the same high-contrast characteristics of old standard definition, analog video like the stuff I grew up with. So my eye tends to prefer more contrast, since that is what I was accustomed to working with video since the eighties.


Perhaps it looks almost marine in nature. Whale’s teeth…the fronds of a denizen from the ocean’s floor, or some deep coral reef…these spikes take on a life of their own.


Maybe a beard? As if this post has gone full-blown Hezekiah on us?


The second time around, however, this post had been absolutely blasted with ice overnight.


I was getting really cold, so I decided to shoot against a warmer backdrop. That way I could imagine I was able to feel my fingers at this point.


For the record, this is what the photos look like without a matte to separate the white ice spikes from the white background on a white day with a white sky. Get the picture? So not only did I get the chance to experiment with my little matte board technique, I was able to get photos under some really hostile conditions, while still coming away with some detail in the spikes which lured me out there in the first place. Not that I feel I need to defend this technique, but it bears explaining.

So that’s it for this post. About this post. I have many, many more photos to share, so hang in there…more are coming soon!

It’s easy being green

I don’t care what Kermit the Frog says: I find being green delightfully easy, as a former Kawasaki roadracer and general fan of the color. I’ve already done a Christmas lights post, but I had another nice green bulb photo to kick us off this morning.


My beautiful bride painted one of the wicker patio chairs on our deck a wonderful shade of green. That made for a really nice contrast against the white of the frost (Rime Ice) which developed upon it.


These chairs are parked upside-down beneath our deck for the winter, which allowed this leg to become adorned with spikes of white.


It should be apparent by now that I’m a fan of geometry, and this simple little chair was more than happy to oblige. And in my favorite color, too!


Of course, the texture under that green paint was really fantastic, too. The way the weave influenced the texture of the spikes that morning was almost mesmerizing!


I’m glad I got to work that glorious Kawasaki Green into this post. I’m actually pretty eager for Spring to arrive, so I can get out and do some riding! 2020 was supposed to be the year I got back into motorcycling, but I ended up working straight through the year without much riding to show for it at all. But I did get some new riding gear with some of the extra money I brought in, so I’m really hoping 2021 will be my year. With the photographic bonanza we were given last weekend, I’d say this year is off to an excellent start!

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.

Stickin’ it to Red Lodge

This was the view coming back down the hill at Red Lodge last weekend. Some buddies and I rented a nice house with a hot tub and a view of the mountain and headed out for a quick ski/snowboard trip.


Not only was I the only cool kid (snowboarder) in our group of eight, I was the oldest. Proof: I choose to ride in old-skewl style. This is the Avalanche Bumps Pro Mogul snowboard I bought brand new in 1989 when I lived at a resort in the Rockies, and I’m rocking an Aunt Mable’s dino hat (with tail) from the early 1990s. Good luck finding evidence that either of these things ever existed, even on the Google.


If you’ve ever visited a ski resort, much less lived at and worked at one, you know that stickers abound. Naturally it’s tempting to mark your presence by affixing stickers to the nearest lift tower, and there’s plenty of that at Red Lodge.


I spotted a couple of Huff Hills stickers among the pile plastered to one of the towers, so it’s obvious a few of our locals have made their mark in Montana…


But I would love to hear the story behind this one. I’m not sure of its origin, and once again Googling the visible text on it gets me nowhere. But I imagine the story behind it must be a real knee-slapper.

The plan was to bolt down Thursday, shred the gnar Friday, hit the hot tub and grill some monster steaks Friday night, and bolt back Saturday. Perfect plan, perfectly executed. And I managed to get some photos and video to scratch that photography itch, too…while getting a few laughs thanks to the sticker-slapping folks whose handiwork will live in infamy…at least until the towers get a fresh coat of paint, anyway.