Sometimes you're in Luck!

Because I love snow and ice, I am going to take you to a lake in the Netherlands called the IJsselmeer earlier this year where, after a few weeks of sub-zero temperatures, thaw sets in. And where a good dose of luck helps me to shoot a killer image!

Everything suddenly seems to come together: The light, the dramatic sky, and the line in the ice!! Tamron SP 15-30 G2 with NiSi CPL.

Above zero
It had been an amazing period of frost (which has become rare for the Netherlands) but unfortunately, all good things come to an end; Thaw sets in. Because there is quite a lot of ice on the IJsselmeer, we are treated with one final surprise: drifting ice! This phenomenon occurs when the ice starts to break and is then pushed ashore by the wind and current. Depending on the amount, thickness and wind direction, this can lead to a huge spectacle.

Because it is above zero, the ice on the IJsselmeer melts and breaks into pieces, which is then pushed ashore.

Cause it's a gray day, I don’t have to get up early. The sun is barely visible. I start my search in Lemmer. But, there is not a piece of ice to be found, so I quickly continue. Via the Red Cliff and the Mirnster Cliff, I drive past Laaksum and Skarl (Try pronouncing these names :-D ). A nice route. I grew up in this region, so I know where I get the best chance for a nice photo.

At Skarl, I take some traditional ice photos but I miss the excitement. I want something different. On the plus-side: This location offers a wide view across the IJsselmeer, and I see that the ice accumulation is much higher towards Stavoren. That is where I have to go!

The sky is nice, the ice is beautiful and yet I miss excitement. Time to move to another location!

Lots of people
After parking the car, I walk across the dike. My feelings are somewhat tense, I am not satisfied and do not know what I will find here. It is busy, many people have come to see the drifting ice. No wonder! It is quite rare, and there is a lot of it!

To kick things off, I take a few images from the top of one of the big piles (this to the dismay of a local due to the potential danger), I decide to walk to the fishing harbor. Here are two beacons that could be of interest.

Huge amounts of ice being pushed ashore by the wind: A special sight!

The shot
I notice a beautiful line of broken ice leading towards the beacon, and have found my composition! To get the shot I've envisioned, I need to be as close to the waterline as possible. Therefore, I climb down the steep and super slippery stones. Balancing on the basalt blocks, I prep my gear.

It is quite a hassle to find a satisfying place for my tripod. Many of the ice blocks are loose, the stones are slippery and the water is too deep. Eventually it works, and after some fine-tuning, I am satisfied with my composition!

Finally, I got what I want: The light is beautiful, the sky dramatic and the line of broken ice guides the eye through the image!

Through the ice
I enjoy the view while taking pictures. The sun breaks through behind me, while a heavy rain shower enters the scene in front of me. The forecast said it will rain non stop from 3 pm so it won’t take long now. Suddenly, I hear an engine roaring to my right and the sound of breaking ice; to my surprise a boat is going for the ice! I quickly switch my camera to film mode. This is too good to miss! The captain gives a huge burst of gas. The engines roars and the ice creaks!

But, as expected, the ice is too thick. I can’t believe my eyes. The ship comes to a standstill at exactly the right place in my composition. To top it off, the sun blasts through the clouds behind me.
I can’t believe my luck! The image is complete. The dramatic sky, the line in the ice, the beacon and the boat are lit by the sun. While I am photographing, I enjoy the spectacle that takes place in front of me.

You make your own luck
After a while the sky starts to close, the light is gone, and rain falls. This is the sign for me to leave. Very happy with the image, I suddenly realize that on the one hand I have been very lucky, but on the other hand, I've enforce this luck by going out often. In other words: exposing yourself to the elements, looking for beautiful subjects and being on location increases your chance of shooting beautiful images. Moments like this make all failures and “pointless” outings worth it. And besides, a moment in nature is never pointless!

By going out often, you enforce your own luck!  Tamron SP 15-30 G2 with NiSi CPL.

Thanks for reading
I really hope that you enjoyed this article! I really hope my stories inspire you to pick up the camera, and head out for adventure! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

If you like my photography, please follow me on, and on Facebook


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Great write up, such a perfect moment to capture with the ship and the surrounding landscape creating such a great scene.

Thanks very much!! Yes that was really cool!! I couldn't believe my luck when everything fell together. Especially, when I heard the engine roaring and when the ship got stuck :-D

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Thanks very much! That is nice to hear!

You did great :) I'm surprised they couldn't get through,was it an icebreaker?

Thanks very much. No it was a fishing ship. Not a really big one and because it is an accumulation of ice, which party froze again over night, it was really thick.

Maybe they shouldn't have tried to tackle it. That could have ended badly.

Yes indeed, not the smartest move... but it made my image :-D

Definitely :) I wonder if you can convince them to take you out for a different vantage point sometime???

That would be fun right!

Oja, ik had een dronefoto van die schuit :p

Ja daar moest ik nog aan denken toen ik dit poste idd!

That's a lot of ice :):) aussies would love to use all that to keep their beers cold over here in Australia :D Looks really incredible, the photos are breathtaking !

Hahahaha yes that would be a good use of it for sure!! Especially in an Australian summer! Thanks for your compliment! Much appreciated!

Beautiful shot @harmenpiekema! The story really adds to the image. I would never have realised that the ship was stuck in the ice sheets!

Thanks very much!! It was such a cool sight and I was indeed very lucky!