Friday, January 10, 2014


When I teach workshops,  I encourage people to be ready for the unexpected.  This means studying your camera's many features and carrying a range of lenses. Both are key to quickly responding to some situation that is different than was planned.  Such was my experience yesterday.

I met a friend, and after some coffee and conversation, we headed to a nearby waterfall with the anticipation that we would do some landscape photography of the frozen ice shapes that this bitter cold spell has created. I had envisioned simple studies like the image at right. Nothing really special, but better than another day inside.

Well, we found something  unexpected and much more interesting.

Ice climbing! I don't claim to understand the fine points, but it is fascinating to watch them methodically test the ice as they work upwards using crampons on their boots and a pair of ice axes.

As the climbers alternated belaying and climbing, I noted that they worked a new route each time, facing different challenges.

Expecting the unexpected for us was having ice cleats to avoid slipping on the very slick ice, having a couple of lenses so we could get more than a wide angle view, and being aware that the massive buildup of ice still has running water beneath the exterior.  The running water  can undermine seemingly solid footing; I did get a slight wet boot when the crust gave way on me. During shooting, we had to keep aware of any falling ice since the climbers at times had to dislodge unstable bits before proceeding.

Thanks to Rob and Jeff for upgrading our outing from mundane to interesting.

You cannot find good photo subjects sitting inside and waiting for milder weather.

Paul Schmitt

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