Frozen menace

This shot is from February 2011 and was taken at the bottom of the Flume Gorge in the White Mountains of NH. The snow was wicked deep that year and I floundered down into the stream bed to get this, nearly burying my old Bogen 3001 tripod and really unsure of my footing since I couldn’t see my feet or where I was standing. But I had two friends with me if I got into trouble.

I didn’t. And managed a few shots of this amazing ice. The blue color is basically SOOC and achieved with a cooler white balance instead of warming it up to neutralize it. I’ve played with it many times over the years and removing the blue guts the image of a lot of character and emotion so I leave it in.

What I didn’t leave in was a lot of little twigs sticking up in the snow. Now I have some Photoshop skills. I could remove those and also improve the luminosity range with careful masking.

Specific Feedback Requested

Too blue? I’ve done several variations with more or less intense blue and one with a warm white balance and very little blue - it’s so blah. I tried B&W. Didn’t work as well. What say you?

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Tripod up to its armpits in snow
Legacy Olympus 65-200mm f/4 lens @f/8 - manual focus


Lightroom for RAW processing and a crop. Brought down exposure slightly and highlights and blacks. Brought up whites and shadows. Added texture and clarity, sharpening & some noise reduction. Photoshop for a fair amount of cloning and healing work. Also used a darks mask to put a curve in the shadows, a lights mask to do the same for the whites, but painted out the snowfield. Also ran a clarity filter at a fairly high pixel range and 100% opacity and fill on that layer. It really worked nicely to up the drama here.


Yes, ice is most often blue! And this is lovely. Glad you were being careful too. At some point , up to my neck in snow along a stream, I realized some photographs were just not that important. Good work.

I don’t think it’s too blue at all! The crop is very nicely chosen. I’d be curious to see the original just to gauge the impact of your various edits, especially the clarity filter process.

Beautiful image of beautiful stuff. I don’t see menace though, I see layers of lacy drapes.

The processing and blue looks good to my eye. It does look like a menacing mouth of gnarly teeth. Nicely done.

Thanks @JohnSnell, @jefflafrenierre & @Harley_Goldman - the ice here in the gorge is alternately blue and sometimes brown/yellow because of tannins in the water.

The crop is mostly done in camera. Here it is when I was done in Lightroom -

This is how I sent it to Photoshop to apply high-pass clarity & two luminosity masks - all created with the TK8 panel. Oh and yeah that’s how messy the scene was, but I couldn’t safely continue down into the gorge to remove them in the field.

On the boardwalk looking up at the top of the gorge -

Looking down into the gorge from the top (over on the left side in the above image) -

My would-be rescuers if trouble ensued -

Wonderful that you saw this and went after it! The blue is definitely perfect, as is the cleanup job. That place looks like a target rich environment!

Thanks @Diane_Miller - The Flume is a very popular NH spot all year round.