I live in Wisconsin at the tip of an 80-mile-long peninsula that extends out into Lake Michigan. There are wonderful photographic opportunities in every season but my favorite time is winter when ice creates magic in many forms, but big ice shoves are what I always anticipate the most. They occur almost every winter but rarely in the same place. In the late winter, usually late February to early April, the bay ice sheet begins to break up. The conditions needed for ice shove formation are a strong wind which breaks up the ice and sets it in motion. The mass and momentum of the ice are tremendous and when the front of the moving ice is stopped by the shore, the ice behind keeps moving and it begins to pile up into a shove. They form in a matter of just a few hours and may end up being just a few feet high or up to 40 feet high of very unstable ice. To me, they are highly photogenic but just until the next snowstorm covers them so the window to photograph them might be very short.
I got a call late one March afternoon from a friend who knew I loved to photograph ice shoves and she told me that one was forming at that moment in a bay a few miles away. I dropped everything and went to look. This one had formed in a bay very near shore in a place that to my knowledge had never seen a shove before and I couldn’t believe what I saw. It was huge and was topped by a precariously balanced vertical slab that itself was about 20 feet high and the entire shove was over 40 feet high. I could hear creaks and groans from the pile and large ice boulders would roll off every few minutes so I knew it was highly unstable and I expected to see that magnificent top slab fall off any minute. I stayed until nightfall with everything still intact. Early the next morning I returned hoping for a sunrise image but saw that the top slab had indeed fallen during the night so the window to see this one at its best had been only a few hours.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor