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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.