Two Degrees

Two Degrees

This was a picture that I had in mind from the moment I grabbed my camera on a chilly January morning earlier this year, and I think the end result is just about what I hoped it would be. The mercury bottomed out at nearly zero overnight and before I left work work (in the car, not on my bike!) I grabbed my D750, attached my 50mm lens, and tossed my Gorillapod in the front seat for good measure. I knew that Theta Pond would have a nice coat of ice when I arrived on campus and would hopefully give me an interesting photo opportunity as a result. I also knew that if I got there before the sun came up I could get some nice motion trails on the fountain by stopping my lens way down and shooting at ISO 100.

Most of the time when I shoot photos at Theta Pond I can’t get motion trails like this since I don’t have an ND filter for my 50mm lens and the light is so bright that exposures of longer than 1/30 of a second are kind of impossible. This was one of the big reasons I was excited about taking this particular photo–I knew the dim daylight would permit a longer exposure and I also knew that the ice would add an interesting element that you don’t normally see at this particular location.

Even though I was born in Minnesota and spent five years living there in my 20’s I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to cold weather, and I was certainly eager to get this shot and put my camera away as quickly as possible to warm my fingers up. I walked to the edge of the pond, set down my tripod with camera attached, and took two pictures at about 1.5 seconds each (I used the self timer to eliminate any vibration from my jittery fingers as I pressed the shutter button) before packing up and heading to my building at work. I like this picture but I do think it would be fun to revisit with an ND filter which would let me get similar results at wider apertures, thus giving the scene a shallower depth of field as opposed to this which was shot at f/16.

All in good time, I suppose, and if I ever do get myself some proper ND filters it would be fun to revisit this scene and see what I could get. But hopefully on a warmer day!


  1. Unfortunately in the Carolinas, we don’t get any opportunities for a shot like this. Nice effect!

    • If it’s any consolation, as someone living in Oklahoma I don’t get any opportunities for pictures of mountains or the ocean coastline!

  2. The blues and the browns are a great color combination. The white from the motion trails of the water really stands out. Great thinking to go out so early in the morning. Thanks for telling us your planning and your equipment.

    • Thanks Rebecca! I’m glad you like it, and comments like yours make the frigid temps and early hour all worth it :)

  3. Simon, thank you for this post. Its very inspiring.

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