With not enough snow for cross country skiing we decided to drive over to the Bjornson Education-Recreation Center for a hike on a cold day. Bjornson has a number of spring fed streams flowing through it. Watercress usually can be found growing on the streams. If it is cold out the watercress will be covered with frost flowers.
It was a dull day with not a lot to photograph but there were a few weeds sticking up out of the snow that made for an interesting pattern.
Further along on the trail we crossed a bridge covered in snow.
It was a -10 degree day and there is no place better to be than Bjornson Education-Recreation Center to photographing frost. A small spring flows out from the hillside creating ideal conditions to create frost. On this particular day we had strong winds (wind chill -35) so there wasn’t as much frost as there would normally be on a cold day. In terms of photography it is better to have less frost because the frost has better definition Too much frost and it starts to look like snow. The bright green of the watercress makes a good background.
When it gets really cold out I usually head out to the Bjornson Education-Recreation Center a few miles from my home. There are a number of springs on the property that flow out of the hillsides. The relatively warm water from the springs combines with the cold air to create a frost covered landscape. It is made even more beautiful because a good portion of the small streams are covered in Watercress. Several years ago we had a harsh winter and in March all of the Watercress disappeared from the streams seemingly overnight. Apparently White-tailed deer normally will not eat it but if it is the only food around they will. For a couple of years the Watercress was gone from the stream but it is abundant once again.
More photos from Bjornson Education-Recreation Center can be found on my website.
I woke up this morning and found that it was -15 outside. I’ve been waiting for this type of weather so I could head out to Bjornson to try and photograph some frost. There are a number of springs that flow from the hills and when the relatively warm water exits from the hills it creates opportunities to photograph frost. It was cold and I was in the stream trying to photograph some frost and spend a little too much time photographing. When I started to leave both boots were stuck in the muck. I had a heck of a time trying to get out. Fortunately I did without taking my boots off. Here are a few shots from this morning.
Frost Covered Watercress
This is probably the worst stretch for photography I’ve ever experienced. Things turned brown in mid October and have continued that way for most of the fall and into the winter. We had a brief snowfall that provided an opportunity for a few photos but for the most part there has not been much to photograph. The last couple of weeks I’ve been out to some of my winter locations without much luck.
Frozen in Time
Normally at this time of year I’m getting some great ice and frost pictures on the Red Cedar Trail. This year the trail has remained open for hiking which is great for those folks that don’t ski and would like to walk down and view the ice formations on the trail. Conditions on the trail vary from no snow, to a slight snow to ice covered. Unfortunately the ice walls have not really formed this year because it’s been so warm. The ice wall looks like it normally would in the spring when it has just about completely melted. It’s even difficult to find ice along the small streams that flow into the Red Cedar River. This was taken along the trail where a small patch of snow had melted and then froze.
The Devil’s Punchbowl has the same problem. The ice formation are very disappointing and the warm weather means that you are still walking through mud to photograph the ice that has formed. This is what it should look like at Devil’s Punchbowl this time of year.
Normally I’ve made several trips to the Bjornson Education Recreation Center by this time of year. It usually provides some interesting frost shots along the streams. There are a number of spring fed streams that run through the center and when the warm water comes out of the hills it creates a lot of steam and hence frost when it is cold. No such luck this year. There isn’t even any ice in the streams and very little snow cover on the trails. The one thing I did notice is that the Watercress has recovered in the streams. A couple of years ago we had a really harsh winter and in March all of a sudden the Watercress disappeared from the streams. The deer in the area were so desperate for food that they eliminated it in a few days and it is just now recovering.
Willow River State Park is another area I frequently visit during cold weather. There are usually some great frost and ice shots to be had. This winter most of the ice seems to be on the trails. Normally folks are skiing on the trails but the trail down from the upper parking lot to the falls is glare ice so be prepared for a fast trip down to the falls.
Northern Cardinal - male
Normally I do a lot of bird photography on my farm in the winter. This year there are hardly any birds at the feeder. There are always American Goldfinches around. Apparently they are a lazy group and would rather eat at the feeder than forage for food. Normally I have all kinds of Dark-eyed Juncos and Black-capped Chickadees around. This year the only time I’ve seen them is right after a snowfall. As soon as the snow melts they are gone. I’ve seen a few male Northern Cardinals but again only right after a snowfall. This photo was taken last year.
Bjornson Education-Recreation Center is a 400 acre forest located west of Menomonie, Wisconsin and run by the Menomonie School District. Every year thousands of children visit the center. It is also open to the public for hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing bird watching etc. Although it is not one of my favorite winter photography locations I do like to visit when the temperature gets below zero. There are a number of springs feeding streams on the property. The largest spring has a good flow rate and comes out the base of a hill. Since water temperature is warm and the air temperature is very cold the result is steam and lots of frost on everything along the stream including branches, rocks, leaves, watercress etc. The frost and the rising steam is what I like to photograph. I typically use my 28-300mm lens and my macro lens when photographing at Bjornson. It is sometimes hard to capture the frost because it is frequently very close to the water so any disturbance of the water results in the destruction of the frost.
Frost and Watercress
Additional photos and directions to Bjornson Education-Recreation Center can be found on my website.