My parents live in central Colorado in a high elevation environment (9,996 ft; subalpine). Upon visiting them, I knew I would find a shot worth submitting for the assignment that would demonstrate the properties of fluid flow and fluid dynamics. Once my parents mentioned there was a melting ice sheet overflowing from the dormant wetland near the house, I had to explore the site. The ice in the area is subjected to approximately 5-6 hours of sunlight per day during the winter months, causing the ice to deform and freeze constantly, creating captivating ice formations. The wetland itself is located within a valley alongside a mountain ridge. My intent was to capture the ice in action, which was simple considering the ice was frozen in time.
Ice chunks and flows move with the help of gravity and under the pressure of their own weight. They move by internal deformation, much like arctic glaciers, and by gradually sliding over rocks and sediments at the base. In this case, there is an underground aquifer that feeds into a shallow spring/wetland throughout the extent of my parents’ property. The area is oversaturated with water throughout the year. However, during the winter, this water rises up from the ground and is subjected to sub-zero temperatures, thus freezing the water into ice. Due to the constant melting and freezing, internal deformation is likely to occur. Internal deformation occurs when the weight and mass of an ice flow causes it to spread out due to gravitational forces. Ice flow retreat, melt, and ablation (the removal of snow and ice by melting or evaporation) result from increasing temperature, evaporation, and wind scouring. After taking the image, I noticed a vast array of air bubbles trapped within the ice as well. As this compression continues and the ice crystals grow, the air spaces in the ice layers decrease, becoming smaller and isolated. This compaction compresses more air spaces out of the snowpack or ice, and compacts the remaining air into bubbles. I ultimately decided to take a close-up image of the air pockets for the assignment.
The time was approximately 3:30 pm and 33ºF while shooting the image, with the sunlight beaming through parts of trees, making for an interesting lighting situation on the surface of the ice. I shot 14 photos about 4 inches above the ground before determining the perfect image (distance from object to lens). My frame of reference was 4 inches x 3 inches. The lighting was purely natural sunlight, without using any sort of flash photography. I was using a Canon EOS Rebel T6i DSLR camera with a EF-S 18-55mm lens, the exposure time was 1/160, the focal length was 55, the dimensions were 6000 x 4000, and I believe the camera was set to an automatic, no flash setting. For future photos I will make sure to manually adjust those settings myself. The final result was an interesting macro picture of contrasting green and blue hues split down the middle of the photo with interspersed air bubbles throughout.
Once the photos were captured, I went ahead and edited the final photo on Adobe Lightroom CC. I primarily tinkered with the white, blacks, exposure, clarity, saturation, and vibrance of the image, while leaving the tints and contrast entact.
Overall, I think the image clearly demonstrates fluid motion frozen in time and serves as a decent example of ice air bubbles forming due to internal deformation, compression, and compaction. Next time I will make sure to adjust the camera settings myself, change the focus and shutter speed, make more in-depth recordings of my field site and image, and manipulate and experiment with fluids even more.
Environment: Subalpine Central Colorado Wetland
Elevation: 9,500-10,000 ft
Temperature: 33 degrees fahrenheit
Lighting: Purely natural light – Late afternoon/evening sunlight
Area: Receives approximately 5-6 hours of sunlight a day during the winter months; located within a valley alongside a mountain ridge
Length Above Ground: ~4inch
Editing Program: Adobe Lightroom CC