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Ice Photography Advice

John Gravett's back and this time he's sharing his ice photography tips.

|  Landscape and Travel
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Article by John Gravett of Lakeland Photographic Holidays -

Ice is only frozen water – so it's clear, isn't it? Far from it, and I love ice – naturally occurring on lake edges, round waterfalls, as icicles, however it forms. I'm only going to look at natural formed ice, rather than ice made in freezers and photographed in studio conditions; although either makes amazing pictures.


Gear needed:


When the cold weather finally arrives this year, put on your winter clothing and venture out looking for ice – whether it is in the form of frozen lakes, or more modestly icicles or even frozen puddles, the patterns can be amazing.

Leaf Frozen

Remember, the larger the body of water, the longer it takes the ice to form. Puddles will freeze only a couple of degrees below freezing, but for the surface of an entire lake to freeze, you'll need a week or so of very cold weather.

Frozen Lake

At the side of streams, where water runs off peaty land, there is a chance that icicles will form on the grasses overhanging, set against a dark background, the icicles can really stand out.


Look at waterfalls, or cascades of water over rocks. Although the temperature may not be low enough to freeze the moving water, where it splashes up over rocks and grass at the edge of the stream, it forms almost crystalline shapes. A long shutter speed will contrast the moving water with the icy margins, and the corresponding small aperture will give you a wide depth of field, ensuring front to back sharpness.

Crystal Cascade

Last winter I was passing a farm building with a leaky tap, spraying water into the air – on the grass below had formed a number of stalagmite-type icicles, growing up from the grasses.

Frozen grass

Flat surfaces of ice, from the top of puddles, to a frozen lake, can offer a wealth of patterns and textures, and careful choice of the angle of shot can make big differences to the reflections. A polarising filter can also help suppress reflections, allowing more detail of the texture to come through, especially if there are air bubbles frozen in the ice from foliage under the surface.


When shooting flat ice textures, depth-of-field is an important consideration. Although the subject itself might be flat, unless your camera back is perfectly parallel to the ice-surface, unless you're using a small aperture, you may find edges / corners of the photo out of focus. Remember though, ice is pretty static, and generally won't suffer from a long exposure. Try to maintain a focal point in the picture, which could be something as simple as an air bubble trapped in the ice, to a leaf, stone or other colour-contrast in the picture.

Remember though, if it's cold enough for ice, you'll need good winter clothing on to keep you warm.

Article by John Gravett of Lakeland Photographic Holidays -

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Gillygems 11 32 United Kingdom
4 Jan 2012 10:15AM
WO W; can't wait for a big freeze to try these techniques!
19 Jan 2012 12:17PM
I have referenced this feature, and added some of my own photos on my blog:


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