Thursday, July 10, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Olympic Icicles

It's just like covering the Olympics.

Olympic Icicles

Across the continent, sports photographers, long lenses focused on a Whistler mountainside, wait for that split second when a downhill skier would pass them at 80 mph.

At perhaps that very same moment, I am engaged in my own winter olympic moment. My macro lens is inches away from a line of icicles hanging from a gutter, waiting for something just as fleeting.

In the days after our record snowfall I'd noticed the huge icicles hanging from roofs all over the region, and began photographing some of the more interesting formations as I drove between assignments. Click here for a gallery.

Yesterday, as I got out of my car for a closer look at some
icicles on a guuter, with the temperature hovering right around 32 degrees, I could immediately feel the change in the air as the sun went in and out of the clouds. I could tell when it went above freezing and when it dipped back below again. And standing there under the gutter I could actually hear the snow melting on the sunny roofs and then dripping down the icicles each time.

It was then that I decided to capture a single drop of water. Even though I knew it was coming, it was still difficult to hit the shutter at just the precise moment. I stood there thinking of the downhill racers, or fastballs leaving a pitcher's hand, or even a child's fleeting expression - marveling at both the exquisiteness and evasiveness of those moments in life that occur in just a fraction of a second.

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
About this blog

Tom Gralish is a general assignment photographer at The Inquirer, concentrating on local news and self-generated feature photos.

He has been at the paper since 1983, photographing everything from revolution in the Philippines to George W. Bush’s road to the White House to homeless people living on the street right outside his newspaper's front door. For his photo essay on Philadelphia’s homeless, he was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Award.

His weekly newspaper column, "Scene Through the Lens," takes a look at Philadelphia's urban landscape.

Gralish, along with Inquirer colleague and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Vitez, spent a year visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art to capture the stories and photos of "Rocky runners" who come from all over the world to climb the steps - just as Sylvester Stallone did in the Academy Award winning film, Rocky. Their book, Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope and Happiness at America’s Most Famous Steps, was published in November 2006.

Reach Tom at tgralish@phillynews.com.

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
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