Arctic Sunset over Buffalo's Outer Harbor

February 02, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Painted Sky over Frozen Lake Erie, Buffalo's Outer Harbor in WinterPainted SkyBuffalo's Outer Harbor Can you smell the air? That's one of the things I really like about winter. That fresh smell with a bite, especially when temperatures drop well below freezing. Zero Fahrenheit or even lower works the best. While this Sunday afternoon only featured temperatures just below 20ºF, it still felt great!

The eastern side of Lake Erie was frozen solid way into the lake past the first and second break walls of the Outer Harbor in Buffalo, NY. I came couple hours before sunset and enjoyed walking around and photographing the happy feel on the ice. There were nice ice formation around the shore, lots of ice fishermen either in their shelters or just sitting around their holes in camping chairs. It was possible to take pictures of Doug's Dive from the other side without using a boat. And to the south, the Cargill Pool Grain Elevator posed for a different take in a different season and from a different angle.

I walked pass the first break wall and enjoyed the new views that opened to me. As I headed for the second wall the sun was already very low and I had a blast watching the ice and snow beneath my feet looking for interesting patterns to either focus on as abstract close ups or to use as the foreground for a wide sunset photo. And the lake was generous and my progress was very slow as I zigzagged a foot to the left, two feet to the right, a step forward. Some nice clouds also rolled in from the west partially covering the sun, painting wonderful abstracts in the sky, and helping me balance the exposure in the process. I still had to use a split neutral density filter to further darken the sky and allow for the ice and snow to come through as bright as it looked to my eyes standing there.

I also had an opportunity to chat with a gentleman who had fun hiking to the distant break wall and on top of it to get a nice view of the moon landscape beyond. Its views like that helping explain the purpose for the barrier as the ice between it and the shore was relatively smooth but very choppy beyond on the open lake. His name was John and we talked twice - at the beginning of his trek and on his way back. Thanks John, it was a nice change of pace for my otherwise lonely hobby of landscape photography. Maybe you could also e-mail me the photo you took of me, that was the first for me!

I continued taking pictures well after the sunset but turned around at that point and started slowly inching back towards the shore, still looking for more opportunities in the distance and down in the ice. I could also tell I was not a seasoned ice fisherman as each loud crack of ice had me ready to fall flat down looking to distribute my balance or possibly run for my life. I managed to suppress that urge as there was absolutely no movement in the solid thick ice but was close a few times.

The second photo that I would like to share with you below is very similar to the one above and I could not really decide which one should be my favorite. I like the painted sky in the photo above and I like the head on intensity of the sun in the one below. Both have plenty of ice and snow to show how winter in Buffalo and Western New York should look.

Frozen Sunset & Lake Erie, Buffalo's Outer Harbor in Winter.Frozen SunsetBuffalo's Outer Harbor

Frozen Sunset & Lake Erie, Buffalo's Outer Harbor in Winter

Have fun!

ReferencesGreat Lakes Surface Analysis (temperature and ice coverage) by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

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