How To Photograph Icicles

Although we often consider summer the most beautiful time of year, winter also holds its own magic and mystery.

How To Photograph Icicles

With snow and ice all around, this is the perfect opportunity to capture some stunning winter photos. But how to photograph icicles?

Icicles are a fascinating natural phenomenon. You can find them almost anywhere when it is extremely cold and humid, including hanging off roofs or even trees.

In this easy guide, we share our top tips on how you can capture fantastic icicle photos that stand out from the crowd.

1. Stake Out Interesting Locations

When it comes to icicle photography, the surroundings of the icicle group itself are important because it creates the atmosphere and mood of the photo.

Icicles are mostly found hanging off roofs, porches or other overhangs but you can also find icicles out in nature.

Take a look around your local area and keep an eye out for the most stunning icicles you can find. Keep in mind that they often grow where there is a lot of water running off.

2. Watch The Light

When you are out in nature, light conditions change frequently. This means that you need to get a feeling for the right, natural light around your chosen icicle shot.

Icicles are frozen water, so they are often translucent and catch the light. This is the perfect opportunity to play around with different light and angles to capture the best icicle shot.

You may also want to focus on different patterns and colors in and around the icicle. Depending on the light, the coloration and textures in the icicle will be more or less visible.

It is a good idea to capture your icicle shot around sunrise or just before sunset when the sun is still out but you don’t get the harsh, direct sunlight.

Ideally, you want to photograph icicles with a soft, natural light that passes through the ice formation.

Alternatively, you can also go out on a bright full moon night to get a white light with your icicles. Just keep in mind that you need to increase your camera’s ISO to the maximum for photos in the dark.

3. Look Out For The Background

The background is what gives your icicle photos their character. Whether you have the sky, buildings or trees can have a big impact on what your icicle looks like.

Make sure that you slightly blur too busy backgrounds to ensure that they don’t distract from the main object: the icicle. This being said, most icicle shots only come alive with the various backgrounds.

4. Look For Unusual Shapes

Icicles come in all shapes and sizes. They are not just long, slender ice formations but they also appear in groups that are thin or thick, short or long.

When you look around, you will find plenty of fascinating icicles that even may look like a certain object or animal. Nature photographers often capture these unusual shapes to tell a story.

5. Find Frozen Objects

Whenever you are photographing frozen water, you can find tiny objects that get stuck in the ice. This could be leaves, pine cones and even small animals.

You might even find small bubbles or cracks in icicles that are worth exploring with some macro photography techniques.

Use a macro lens to capture these fascinating objects close-up. The thin layer of ice will give your photos a magical atmosphere.

It is best to use the right aperture for a good depth of field to retain the sharpness across the entire photo. This makes the trapped object look crisp and sharp.

6. Try Different Angles

Typically icicles form anywhere where water is flowing, including angled roofs and caves. This is a great chance to take some icicle photos from various different angles.

Try to get underneath your icicle and shoot up. If you have an icicle lower to the ground, you can even take a snap from the top down.

The most common way to photograph icicles is from the side or through the icicle. This allows you to capture part of the background and the natural light around.

7. Mix Ice And Water

Icicles form when dripping water freezes over time. The best way to tell a story of this frozen nature phenomenon is by capturing both water and ice side by side.

This could be photographing an icicle with water dripping off the end or you could take a picture of icicles near a stream, river or lake.

The connection between ice and water is a fascinating subject to explore with your camera and it gives you so many opportunities to visually show the connection between free-flowing water and static icicles.

8. Go For Muted Colors

Just by nature, icicles are white or translucent. They don’t allow a lot of colors to be visible, so it makes sense to capture subtle shades of colors in the objects around the icicle, such as black, brown or dark hues.

While it can be tricky to find colorful plants during winter (see also “What To Photograph In Winter?“), you might still be lucky to spot some flowers where icicles formed around the flower head.

This is the perfect chance to capture these pretty colors together with the cool and crisp texture of icy stalagmites.

9. Use A Polarizing Filter

Polarizing filters attached to your camera allow you to filter out any reflections that might show up in the icicle.

This ensures that you can capture a sharp photo of your ice formations without the reflection of your camera lens or other objects in the shot.

Final Thoughts

While photography always captures just one moment in time, photographing icicles allows you to capture water frozen in time.

When it gets cold in your local area, just keep an eye out for icicles and get out snapping. Make sure that you always have solid footing and don’t slip while you are concentrating on your shot.

It is worth playing around with different light, various angles and different white settings on your camera to get the perfect icicle shot.

Laura McNeill
Scroll to Top