I C E : Frozen Worlds Photography by BRIAN SHEPP
When I first moved to Donner Lake in the high Sierra Nevada, I was not seeking ice. I was a hiker and mountain biker, a fan of trees and lakes and the summer sun. But living in the shadow of a mountain at 6,000 feet, the sun has little power from December through March, and the season's icy grip cannot be ignored.
The startling visual possibility of ICE first presented itself to me, in its silent and secretive way, in a gutter in front of my house one Chrsitmas Eve. The sky was still blue, but the mountain had cast its shadow over the neighborhood hours ago. Sunlight still basked the west-facing slopes in the distance in a late afternoon gold. Returning from a walk, my eye was caught by light dancing in the ditch. From the edges and contours of cracked sheets of ice, the afternoon sky reflected deep within the shadows of the gutter, creating a mosaic of natural, crystal shapes and deep color. The layered depth of the pattern and the sense of the ordinary-made-magical grabbed me, and I raced inside for my camera. the result was the first photo in my ICE collection, Titled "V".
Later, I went seeking more of these beautiful ice shards, and instead discovered an entire world of variety and mystery, a microcosm of explosive shape, line and color that continues to surprise and inspire me a decade later.
The color you see in the photos is not actually the crystal-clear ice, but rather the reflection of either the sky or of rocks or pine needles frozen in the ice. On a cloudy day, the images can become nearly black-and-white, while on days with a bright blue sky, the indigo light dances through the still water.
Most of the ICE photos are taken in December or early January, when the temperature is well below freezing except at midday when it manages to crawl above 32F, enough to melt someof the ice so that water starts to flow. But night falls quickly in the winter, and the water re-freezes, leaving a map of its daily exertions in the structures, bubbles, lattices, and ribbed tubes that remain etched like abstract sculptures awaiting interpretation.
I hope you enjoy your journey of discovery through icy realms!