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Ice Weirdness

Ice Weirdness
Photo Information
Copyright: Bob Harrison (BobH) Silver Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 40 W: 8 N: 192] (650)
Genre: Plants
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-12-12
Camera: Canon PowerShot S5 IS
Exposure: f/4.5, 1/200 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Theme(s): Frozen nature, Ice in any shape!, gondox's favorites - abstracts and close ups [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-12-14 3:36
Viewed: 3444
Points: 12
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Some unexpected weirdness from the supermacro world today. I was thinking while writing of Joe K, Bob Shannon, Markus, Francine, and others who have commented on my winter and/or supermacro shots before. This may not be so aesthetic, but it is quite different and certainly worth a look. It's in that category of interesting and unusual things that exist unnoticed right under your nose.

The image shows some very strange order within chaos- tiny irregular polygons on the surface of ice, each of them containing a bizarrely regular pattern of tinier surface ridges. For scale, the red berry is about 6-7 mm diameter. The ridges separating the polygons are less than 1 mm wide and the small ridges within the polygons must be less than half that.

A few days ago we had our worst ice storm in a decade, which left somewhere around a million homes in several states without electrical power, in my case for nearly two full days. This is an opportunity that no crazy winter tolerant photographer can resist, so I grabbed my camera and went out to look around.

On the coast, where the ocean moderates the temperatures in winter, we have minor ice storms frequently. The view was mostly familiar- ice encased branches, downed limbs, leaves encased with several mm thick shells. The cold and wind were enough that I didn't try much difficult and fussy stuff, nor did I spend as much time as I normally would looking at the shots just taken. I also was paying more attention to my fingers freezing than to the camera settings.

So to my surprise, when I downloaded the images in the evening and saw the full screen view of my only closeup of some ice encased berries, I was amazed. I had seen the lines on the ice while shooting, but thought they were cracks. I definitely did not expect to see anything interesting and thought this image would be a throwaway. Only after it was too late in the day to shoot more did I realize I should have looked closer, shot more carefully, and captured more than one image. I'm also traveling elsewhere early today, so may not be able to repeat this.

For me as a scientist, there is a very big "WHY?" here. Most of the time Ice structure says something about the formation process, such as in my "Ice Art" series. In this case, I am totally clueless. Any ideas and especially similar observations would be greatly appreciated.

tech note- cropped significantly from original to highlight surface features; contrast/shadows/highlights tweaked for better visibility of ice features

note added 12-17-08

A workshop added after the original post gives a wider view of an adjacent bush, which shows better the size of the red berries.

note added 12-18-08

A second workshop was added to show the same polygons on another branch from the same storm (next day and several km away). The photographic quality is less than the original, but shows the same thing.

note added 1-1-09

A third workshop was posted to show the original uncropped image, which clearly shows that the polygon boundaries were actually grooves rather than ridges. This paves the way for an explanation of both grooves and small parallel ridges which I can accept. This is discussed in more detail in the new workshop notes.

note added 4-11-09

My reply today to the comment by Steve (LordPotty) contains a detailed explanation of the process that resulted in grains, grooves and ripples. If you want to understand how I think this process works, read that reply.

marhowie has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To LordPotty: weirdnessBobH 1 04-11 21:17
To valy67: talented artistBobH 2 12-18 13:33
To joey: new shot- more of sameBobH 1 12-18 10:24
To joey: new shot- more of sameBobH 1 12-18 10:24
To gondox: new shot of ice weirdnessBobH 1 12-18 10:22
To gondox: weirdnessBobH 1 12-15 05:02
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi Bob!

This is so fantastic!

Patterns like this are so wonderful in nature. You captured it with superb details and perfect exposure. Ws also helps to determine sizes in your macro shot. TFS!

Best regards,

superbe effet de la glace
bien vu et bien pris

Beautiful surprising shot, like the skin of something "fishy"! Thank you for the inspiration, I'll keep an eye on that here in the South of France, where similar scenes may appear.CarOze

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-12-18 4:05]
  • [+]

That really is weird!
I had a look at the wider view in the WS and I agree, the ridges look just like cracks.
But close up it's amazing!
I don't have a clue why the ice would form like this. We need to find an ice scientist or something :-)
Great clear view.
Spot-on exposure.

Thanks very much for sharing this one!


Hello Bob !
This is really strange, I have never seen something like that before - like you, i wonder WHY. But the picture, of course, is great. Nature is the most talented artist, creating amazing things and shapes and patternes. it's wonderful that you have been able to capture this and show it on TN - thank you !
Greetings from France,

Weird indeed Bob!
What strikes me here is how similar these patterns are to human fingerprints.
Why? I have no idea either!
Great stuff!

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