Ice cold - lake geneva in nyon

Ice cold down by the lake

I speculated last week that winter may have just begun, as snow finally made an appearance over The Alps (side note: it’s kind of on hold again). Well the snow came and went, allowing a bitter cold period to take its place. A powerful wind brought ice cold temperatures over a 48 hour period, with the effects best seen down by the lake. Dreary winter landscapes were transformed into outdoor art galleries, with a steady flow of people making it out of their cars to capture ice sculptures as they formed. Each additional burst of waves brought a new layer to these ever-changing formations. As I had great access to the lake, I set out to photograph the ice whilst the wind was still blowing, documenting it over the two days.

ice cold | people photograph ice in nyon during winter storm

What causes it? The Bise

If the Bise makes an appearance in the winter, it generally causes some havoc. It is a cold and dry wind that kicks off in the northeast of Switzerland, funnels its way along the ridge of the Jura mountains before climaxing around the Geneva area. The crashing waves and ice cold temperatures lead to incredible formations where the water settles. Back in 2012, the ice engulfed entire boats and cars which were either docked in port or parked up next to the lake. I didn’t quite experience anything so drastic this time, but you can see from the image below that the lake resembled the ocean at times.

ice cold | winter storm on lake geneva

Ice cold | ice storm in nyon plage

ice cold | a storm during winter in geneva

ice cold sunshine | winter in geneva

With the most accessible ice formations being captured at a rate of 1 image every 5 minutes, there was certainly the need to look further a field and wait for the light to change. For the most part the ice was sheltered underneath a foreboding sky, with a cool blue hue attached to each scene. The odd ray of light did make an appearance however, and I made it my priority to photograph as much under that beautiful winter light. As sunset took hold, a flock of seagulls were illuminated as they picked off Crayfish that had been tossed onto the shore. It seems that breakfast, lunch and dinner for them that day was as good as it gets.

Ice cold lakeside freezes geneva

ice cold weather brings ice to geneva

ice cold weather make beautiful natural sculptures

Ice cold | birds feed during a winter storm in geneva

Transforming from day into night

It was fascinating to watch the buildup of ice as the day progressed, with these similar railings captured in the morning, late afternoon and night. The night sky brought about a stillness, with the roadside ice sculptures now appearing to be pieces of art in their own right.

ice cold | barrier frozen by the wind

ice cold | barrier frozen by the wind II

ice cold | barrier frozen by the wind III

ice cold | frozen trees at night

ice cold | frozen trees at night II

ice cold | frozen trees at night III

Photographing the roadside formations at night brought a new dimension to the ice. Wanting to try and experience some more, I drove out to a nearby forest that I knew was facing the lake. Walking through it, illuminated by just my head torch, I uncovered an ice world that cracked, creaked and shifted under my every footstep. I love photographing landscapes in the evening, especially when you’re completely isolated—relying on your camera and your multiple layers of clothing, capturing the images and then heading back for a warm shower and hot drink.

ice cold | frozen trees at night IIII
ice cold | frozen trees at night IIIII

All in all, I went a little crazy photographing this ice. Editing down 1500 images to a small selection was quite the task, especially as so many had unique characteristics. It’s definitely a phenomenon that makes me fully appreciate every season. Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter all have characteristics that I love, and I look forward to documenting each one.

ice cold | frozen trees at night make beautiful sculptures



















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