My first portfolio -- first ensemble of images -- after years of scattered efforts, "Black Ice" redoes a subject traditional to photography, cracks and bubbles in ice. The water in Lake Bungee, in woodsy Connecticut, lent itself to casting figures against black; always dark anyway (due to tannins in the leaves through which it filtered), it froze darker more than usual in the winter of 1989-90 before any snow fell. The cracks were also unusually pronounced, because the temperature, 2 F (-17 C) the morning after Thanksgiving, never rose above 20 F ( -7 C) before the new year, so the ice kept expanding, pushing against itself and the shores, new cracks forming in thunderous rumbles that traveled across the lake especially at coldest night. To take advantage, I used a film with a short tonal scale, Polaroid Type 55, exposing for highlights, letting the background fall into spatial black.
This photograph has looked and felt like the portfolio's visual and logical end since I first saw it as Polaroid positive. The ice had melted for a day, released shards, but then refrozen, creating a surface like leather with deep jagged punch marks. In bright sunlight, I aimed the camera at the sun's glare on the ice perhaps twenty feet away, exposed the negative for the glare (placed it at the top of the tonal scale), and Polaroid Type 55 let all the rest of the scene fall down into the gloom while still holding details everywhere; that's what makes for an impression of a ball hovering in space.