Reflections in ice sculptures, Saddlebag Lake, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Reflections in sculptured ice, Saddlebag Lake, Inyo NF. Abstracts and telephoto lenses seem to go together, so I started off using my 70-200 zoom. But just to try something different I got down near the edge of the lake and tried using a wide-angle lens, and these wide-angle abstracts turned out to be some of my favorites. (35mm, 1/20 sec. at f/16, ISO 100)

This past winter’s record-setting snowpack in the Yosemite high country has left tons of snow and ice lingering into July. Tioga Pass finally opened on June 29th, and Claudia and I headed over the pass on July 3rd to scout for our Range of Light workshop. We found little snow below 9,000 feet, but above that altitude the hiking was tough, requiring either long detours to avoid snow, or traversing tedious, slippery, sun-cupped snowfields.

That meant we couldn’t get to certain locations during the workshop, but as compensation we got to photograph roaring creeks and rivers, and partially-frozen lakes. When frozen lakes melt you can often find beautiful patterns where ice and snow mix with patches of open water. On the last evening of the workshop we went to Saddlebag Lake, which had some amazing ice patterns. Better yet, the ice went into the shade around 6:30 p.m., while the rusty-colored mountainside on the opposite side of the lake stayed in the sun for another hour, casting beautiful gold and orange reflections in the water. This was kid-in-candy-store stuff to someone who likes abstracts as much as I do.

I had so much fun that evening that I went back to Saddlebag Lake the next day, after the workshop was over. I’ve also included a few more ice photographs made before and during the workshop from other high-elevations lakes.

If you’d like to try making your own ice abstracts keep in mind that all these images were made five to thirteen days ago, and the ice was melting fast. There should still be ice on some of the highest-elevation lakes and tarns for a couple more weeks, but you’ll probably have to hike a bit (likely over snow) to reach them.

— Michael Frye

Patterns in melting ice, Saddlebag Lake, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Patterns in melting ice, Saddlebag Lake, Inyo NF (138mm, 1/20 sec. at f/16, ISO 125)

Ice panorama, Saddlebag Lake, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Ice panorama, Saddlebag Lake, Inyo NF. Claudia showed me a beautiful panorama of the ice on her iPhone, so I had to try it. I thought that stitching images might create parallax problems in this situation, so I just cropped this panorama out of an image made with my widest lens. (16mm, 1/10 sec. at f/16, ISO 100)

Ic patterns and reflections, Saddlebag Lake, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Ice patterns and reflections, Saddlebag Lake, Inyo NF (200mm, 1/30 sec. at f/16, ISO 100)

Scalloped ice along the edge of, Saddlebag Lake, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Scalloped ice along the edge of Saddlebag Lake, Inyo NF (155mm, 1/15 sec. at f/11, ISO 125, focus stacked)

Ice and reflections on Tioga Lake, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Ice and reflections on Tioga Lake, Inyo NF (106mm, 1/4 sec. at f/16, ISO 100)

Ice pattern, Shell Lake, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Ice pattern, Shell Lake, Inyo NF (183mm, 1/8 sec. at f/16, ISO 100)

Cloud reflected in Middle Gaylor Lake at sunset, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Cloud reflected in Middle Gaylor Lake at sunset, Yosemite (81mm, 1/6 sec. at f/16, ISO 100)



Related Posts: Over Tioga Pass; Tioga Pass Opens

Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, Yosemite Meditations for Adventurers, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.