Battling the Ice

Yesterday we had 35+ MPH winds so I went to Webster Park on Lake Ontario to photograph more ice. Everything from the parking lot down to the shore

Under Ice

was iced, due to freezing rain and refreezing. So I strapped on my gear, including my micro-cleets, and boldly walked down to the pier. I had  to use my foot to punch through the snow to set up my tripod. The gusts were so strong at times I made sure I always held on to the tripod to avoid having it blown over, and to

Webster Pier

dampen vibration during shooting. I selected locations where I was at least partly shielded from wind with a good view of the pier. I took a total of 12 shots from three angles.

The first photo shows the pier completely under ice (taken slightly to the left of the pier). The second photo (taken slightly from the right) shows the same pier during a nor’easter last fall. Fresh water freezes far more readily than salt water so it doesn’t take much cold to enable the waves to build high ice walls on the lake’s leeward shore lines. The trick is to wait for that split second when a large wave breaks. Had I been using my digital camera that can shoot 10 frames per second this would have been much easier.

To get the third photo I walked a short way along the shore to the right of the pier looking for an opening free of branches. Resetting the tripod and camera while wearing gloves is always a challenge. This day I was wearing gloves with openings for the forefinger and thumb (and hand warmers in my pockets to rewarm them).

I had to climb up the hill to get into place for the fourth photo. The wind was horrific. Fortunately, I was able to find a large tree close to where I needed to be to partially shield me and the camera.

I took all these photos with my 35mm camera with a circular polarizing filter on a 135mm lens. Since I was shooting Tri-X 400 film, the filter enabled me to shoot at slower shutter speeds to get a little blur on the breaking waves.

Unlike shallow Lake Erie, Ontario is deep so it only freezes around the edges. While this works for surfers (yup, winter is the best time since that’s when the waves are the highest) we get lake effect (snow) all winter long when the wind is blowing on shore (i.e., off the lake). Those areas most exposed to on shore wind get the most snow. Watertown, at the east end of the lake gets the most, about 300+ inches per year!

 

 

 

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Little Ice on the Lower Great Lakes

Lake Ontario coastline near Sodus, NY Bay
Lake Ontario coastline near Sodus, NY Bay, Feb 2017 (Courtesy: Robert DePuyt)

As we flew along the Lake Ontario shoreline near Sodus Bay, NY this past Friday, we got a quick shot of the shoreline using a mobile phone. As you can see there is no evidence of pack ice along the shore. Compare this with the second photograph showing the more typical ice pack, taken on January 2015 from Durand-Eastman Beach. It is only about thirty miles west of this location; you can see a dramatic difference.

Lake Ontario pack ice
Lake Ontario pack ice, Jan 2015

Year-to-year ice levels will almost always vary. However, the overall trend is for less Great Lakes ice. You can the view graphics showing change over the years, based on scientific data at NOAA’s website.