Sunday, April 15, 2012

Of Ice and Light

So...every now and then you try some experimental photography shots and, when you sit down and print them "download them to your computer"  you get a serious surprise. That is what happened to me today. This morning I was at the river looking at some really wonderful ice crystals that had formed in the flowing water overnight and decided that they were waaaaay to cool not to photograph.  Pardon the pun....

It turns out that the resulting photos are kind of least, I think they are!
 And, yes these are ice crystals in the river.  The photos were taken about an hour after sunrise but somehow the crystals bent and refracted the light into some truly spectacular images.  No artificial light in these shots...promise!
 Crazy reflection right??  Not so much.  Just an aberrant collection of ice crystals.  I guess when flowing water freezes it really does defy the rules...well, at least the rules that I know!
 River rocks through the ice

So delightfully colourful....somehow much more colourful than it was in real life!

Truth in advertising.  This is the only shot I snapped that was not a close up.  The ice crystals in the other pictures are from the new ice along the river's edge.  Hard to see in this shot, but there nevertheless.

I love it when weird and wacky also turns out to be wonderful!  Oh, and yes, I know that the last blog was an expose on how spring really is here...and now this one is about ice.  In my defense, this glistening, light-bending ice collection was gone by about 11:00...Who knows what we'll see next week!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How To Tell It Is Spring on the Steppe....

In a country of sweeping and epic climatic variations like Mongolia, how can you know that winter really is no more and that spring is well and truly here? 

Well...I have been observing phenonmena here for the last few weeks and have come up with a few theories about what proves it is really spring on the steppe...all very scientific you know!  

I think it is a safe bet it is spring on the steppe when.....

...the lambs arrive!!!  Aren't they gorgeous!  And yes, they were very warm and cuddly too.  And yes, I did say let's kill them and eat them...but I was only joking!!! Honest!

...or maybe it is when the ice on the river gets so soft that even little cars leave six inch deep tracks as they race across.....
..could it be when the locals start to forgo head gear and gallop across the steppe on their elegant chargers unencumbered by  winter deels...?

...or maybe you know it is spring when they take those same lovely horses across that same slushy ice that nearly didn't hold the car...and find that it won't really hold a horse either!!  And no, that horse isn't missing his left front is through the ice.  Not to worry - they persevered and he made it across!
....if hatless on a horse is a sign of spring, then hatless on a bike should qualify too.....

...and I know for sure that horses shedding their winter coat in this enthusiastic fashion ( sometimes with somewhat reluctant encouragement!) must mark the changing of the seasons....
..and I have seen good evidence that getting rid of the winter coat will happen with or without the help of   those of us with opposable thumbs..!

Spring in Mongolia is  marked with constant and epic wind I'm told.  Which means that it must be here because yesterday it was windy enough to get a Mongolian to ride with his hat in his hand for rear of losing it...oh, and quite a fancy hairdo as a result!

And lastly, you know it is spring here at the end of the earth when the herds return to the steppe...and give you the wonderful opportunity to herd them.  On our last couple of rides we've had a bit of a go at cows, horses and sheep and while this is just a small group, we do have a horseback riding herding event planned for later in the spring when there are thousands ( literally!) of sheep around.  Now all we have to wait for is the green grass of spring....wait, I think here in Mongolia that is the green grass of summer.  I'll let you know!

Oh, and one more thing - thanks to Robyn Hepburn for her great photos! In case you are wondering which ones they are, they are all the ones that I am in..... :)