For reasons I still have not figured out, last week's cold snap did not put me into the “old man” mode I typically deal with any time it rains or the temperature drops.
Knowing the arctic blast was coming, I tucked in early the night before and fully expected to wake up whining and complaining. Instead, I woke up just before sunrise, made a pot of coffee from the local roaster and watched songbirds at the feeders near our front window while trying to figure out a way to get a photo illustrating the low temperatures.
Cold is tricky to photograph.
Grayson's thermometers were showing 1 degree above zero when I made the first of several attempts at a picture of a soap bubble freezing. The fact that I had no bubble solution didn't slow me down. A quick check of the Internet confirmed dish soap and water will make big bubbles, so I gently stirred up a blue concoction, made a wand from a paper clip and stepped outside.
Despite the fact I had nice bubbles over the kitchen sink, the combination of wind and cold made it impossible to get anywhere close to a photo.
Later that morning, we visited Dollar Tree and spent $3 for pro-grade bubbles and I waited for times when the wind died down to try to get the shot. Eventually, I got lucky and a couple of the soapy spheres landed on a plastic garbage can lid before solidifying and bursting.
I was up at the crack of dawn the next morning as well, and quickly figured out one of my major problems was where the bubbles went. It was much easier, it turned out, to blow a few bubbles then grab one or more back onto the wand to watch it freeze. In the end, I got a couple of nice shots showing the crystalline structure of frozen bubbles. I also picked up a few tricks from other photographers chasing similar images, and hope to capture more “advanced” images the next time we hit single- digit temperatures.
And frozen waterfalls
Light snows made local roads a little tricky on the first day of the cold spell, but highway crews (assisted by the sun and a lot of salt) had area streets and roads almost entirely clear the next day.
Still chasing a photo to illustrate the frigid conditions, we headed back to a waterfall in the Aden community which I knew would have lots of icicles.
We were not disappointed.
We weren't particularly well prepared for the situation either. Even though we had the heavy coats and gloves, we failed to think about the need for boots or some kind of waders. If we had, then we would have been able to actually get behind the falling water for what would have surely been a breathtaking photo.
And, the falling water seemed to truly amplify the cold factor. After only a few minutes of carefully selecting each and every footstep, we were ready to crank up the car heat and head back toward Olive Hill.
Once on the other side of the interstate, of course, we realized there was another frozen waterfall along our path – Fort Falls, near the entrance of Carter Caves State Resort Park.
I had visited that waterfall just a few days before and scared myself silly when I realized I was standing on a patch of ice at the unguarded edge of the overlook. I was certain the more extreme cold had improved upon the frozen falls as well as the surrounding icicles.
It was more than “Mr. Fear of Heights” here could even stand, so I handed my camera to my wife, who was making her first trip out of the house in several days.
Fearlessly, she stepped right up to the edge and snapped an outstanding picture, grinned and handed the camera back. That's pretty impressive for a person who battles vertigo with every waking moment.
Tim Preston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at (606) 4745101.