Vote for Your Favorite Rendition of “Ice Lake” Photo

Good photography does more than capture a moment. It evokes an emotion; it speaks to your soul.

One of the cool things about photography is that there are literally an infinite number of ways that a single photo can be rendered to not only maximize the emotional response, but to also evoke different emotional responses.

Before I begin working with a photo I often start by thinking about the emotion I want to convey. Then, I settle into that emotion until I can clearly feel it in my gut. As I work with the photo I periodically check to see if what I am seeing matches the feeling in my gut. When they match I know I am done.

I call the photo below Ice Lake. It was taken on a sunny November day at Jackson Lake in the Grand Teton National Park. I experimented with creating several interpretations of this photo, each with a different feeling in mind.

I’m curious to know which rendition is your favorite and I’d love to hear your reasons for choosing the one that you did. Click on an image to enlarge it.

Angry Sky

Ice Lake with Angry Sky

Ice Lake with Angry Sky

Blue Sky

Ice Lake with Blue Sky

Ice Lake with Blue Sky

Soft Dusting of Snow

Ice Lake with Soft Dusting of Snow

Ice Lake with Soft Dusting of Snow


Ice Lake Monochrome

Monochrome Ice Lake

Nearly White

Ice Lake Nearly White

Nearly White Ice Lake

13 Comments on “Vote for Your Favorite Rendition of “Ice Lake” Photo”

  1. As Ansel Adams said, “[t]he negative is comparable to the composer’s score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways.” Among other things, a single performer’s performance will change with moods, knowledge and age. You’ve provided a perfect example of this concept with this blog post. There is no right or wrong interpretation; there is simply your interpretation at this time. I hesitate to provide my opinion because it is irrelevant. This is your expression and yours alone.

    Regardless, the assignment, as given, is to choose a favorite from the five interpretations of “Ice Lake” and provide a brief explanation as to why. In spite of all evidence to the contrary, I am capable of staying within the confines of an assignment.

    Angry Sky – I see this interpretation as dark and brooding but without malice. The micro-contrast provides great structure which aids in my reading of the scene. The well-defined clouds and their reflections create a horizontal “V” shape that carries my eye from the weight of the tallest peak through the image. Detail is abundant but not overwhelming, allowing new discoveries with each viewing. I find the lighter skies in the alternate interpretations allow my eye to wander beyond the image. I like the constraint this interpretation provides.

    My initial reaction was quite different; I tended to prefer lighter interpretations. After spending some time with each version, I find Angry Sky has become the interpretation that continues to hold my interest with the greatest strength.

  2. I prefer the soft dusting of snow because it has that tranquil feeling that snowfall brings.
    Whilst the angry sky has more attitude, and has accrued the most votes so far, my personal feel is that the sky somehow doesn’t match the snow scene (maybe they look like this in US but from UK snow brings heavy grey skies).

    • It depends on where you are in the US. In the western states, like Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, the sun and blue skies often come out after a snow storm and reflect brightly off of the snow. It’s a great time to get out and sled or snowshoe or ski. It’s magical.

      Where I grew up, in Indiana, is probably more similar to your weather in the UK. There was often a muddy gray sky before, during, and after it snowed. It wasn’t nearly as much fun.

      Thanks for your comments!

  3. First off, great contrasts and renditions of photo Christie; for me it has to be Soft Dusting of Snow, it evokes a tranquil and more peaceful feeling, the ice lake and the mountains [landscape] appear more serene, natural and crystal. Angry and Blue Sky being too strong, elicits lesser emotion from me. Shades of one color [Monochrome] also inspires very little in the way of feelings. What is the purpose of what the photo needs to convey, or is it about which one will evoke the most emotion for you?

    • Thanks for those thoughts. Actually, for me it was about taking a single image and trying to make it convey a different feeling in each version. It was an experiment to see if I could make the Angry Sky show how a stormy sky made me feel, likewise for Blue Sky and Soft Dusting of Snow. I definitely get a tranquil magical feeling when the sun comes out after a soft dusting of snow. I tried to get that to come across in that in that picture. I’m glad it worked. Out of the emotions that I feel from each scene, the feeling I get from soft dusting of snow is my favorite.

      This experiment is getting me to think more and more about taking a different approach to my digital darkroom work than what I’ve taken in the past. In the past, I simply took an image and tried to maximize its appearance in Photoshop. Now, I’m thinking that my images turn out better when I have a clear vision for the emotion I want them to convey and I focus on that emotion while I’m doing my Photoshop work. I’m also learning that I have a lot of choice in the emotion that I want an image to evoke, regardless of what the original image looks like. That gets me excited about the creative possibilities!

      This was a good experiment.

  4. Nearly white is for me the best. Have the feeling of an ice lake.Monochrome is too classic, the color pictures lost the surrealisme and are to near to reality.
    Wonderful picture.

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