A winter throwdown…

on the still life I’ve presented.

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Frost is the most sophisticated of poets.

Peter Davison

I love to play outside in freezing temperatures; single digits or gentle climbs into the teens will get me up early every time!

When hoar-frost and rime are not readily available, when the patterns on my windshield seem a little haphazard, when snowflakes have become uncooperative, that’s the time when I set up my own winter scenes and wait for Mother Nature to bring it!

It’s a challenging dance. Everything has to be lined up just so; very cold, no wind, superb light, and preferably a blanket of snow.

It’s really a balancing act. First orchestrating the placement of the bubble and then should that be successful you have only seconds to get the shot before any number of catastrophes can occur. Focus is often challenging and ever-changing.

Sometimes I think that the shot that would be the one would be the shot of me taking the shot!

When it all comes together though, it is breathtaking to watch. Each time I am amazed at how the frost patterns bloom and grow on the substrate that I’ve provided. Sometimes floral in their design, other times fern-like. Sometimes hard and directional yet other times faint and tentative.

When asked how do you do that I am often at a bit of a loss to explain. It’s a dance really and for the best results one really does need a willing partner.

Cue music…

A hint of frost…

on a winter morning.

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Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun.

Pablo Picasso

My morning started out with listening to Whiter Shade of Pale; a song that never fails to bring back an abundance of good memories. It also is the song that springs to mind when I am photographing winter scenes.

I love this time of year and find myself working in tandem with mother nature as she throws down the most exquisite frost patterns and formations. There is a fragility to these scenes with conditions changing rapidly and if one blinks…the moment could be lost forever. I find it to be quite a work-out to do justice to what my eyes are seeing especially with light playing such a role in these images. There is never a better time to move around and look from all angles before capturing the moment.

This is a magical time of year when everything is not yet covered in a blanket of snow so fall colors can still blend with the wintry mood and have one last showing.

It is the perfect time to pull out that macro lens and search for the most intimate of landscapes…but bundle up because baby it’s cold outside.

An added note…

As I proof read this prior to publishing, the word fragility leaps off of the page as news begins to filter through about the attacks in Paris. My heart goes out to the people of France.

 

Dew laden dragonfly…

what’s on your bucket list of shots?

dew not disturb
dew not disturb

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.

Zig Ziglar

I have an ever-expanding bucket list of photographs that I would like to take in my lifetime. I think having such a list goes hand in hand with seeing opportunities to photograph. I always carry my camera with me just in case a shot presents itself but I also love those times when I can carve out some time just to go find my shot.

Years ago I saw some breathtaking photographs of dew covered insects and ever since then have been on a search to find a dew laden dragonfly. On this morning I opened the door to let my dog out and saw a sparkly dew covered world. Tiny droplets clinging to every surface it seemed… would today be the day?

Pulling on a pair of Boggs and screwing on my macro lens I headed out to my pasture in search of insects and hopefully, just maybe, a dragonfly? It’s not like I haven’t done this before, I have searched high and low for the dragonfly with no success but often the hunt can be just as fun.

I wondered what the neighbors would think if they saw me crouched in the wet grasses peering intently at every strand; getting colder and more damp by the minute! And then I saw it…amidst the lupines, sparkling like a little jeweled ornament, covered from his eyes to his wings in tiny droplets.

Taking care not to disturb him I gently pushed some leaves out-of-the-way to photograph him and then replaced them afterwards. They are quite vulnerable in this condition, unable to fly until their wings dry and I checked back from time to time to watch the progress until he finally flew away.

Getting a chance at a shot that you’ve been searching for is exhilarating but as is human nature I just want to do it again!

I would love to hear in a comment what’s on your bucket list of shots and in the meantime I’m going out to watch for a heron in flight carrying a twig for his nest!

 

To see the big picture…

sometimes you have to focus on the little bits.

...a single snowflake
“a single snowflake, fleetingly captured”

 

Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever…it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.

Aaron Siskind

 

I remember the exact moment that I became fascinated with macro photography. I use my camera every day and on this particular day I was at a loss for inspiration. My solution to this dilemma was to walk outside and pick a spot, sit down and look carefully at everything around me. It wasn’t long before I noticed a whole tiny world going on around me. My gaze was drawn to a bright green grasshopper on a dandelion stalk that had gone to seed. He was bright green, with the longest of antennae swivelling in all directions. At this time my lens of choice for every day was a pretty basic 55-2oo Nikkor which when zoomed out would have a nice soft background. I laid down on the grass, eye level with this small creature, only to discover that there was more going on upon this small stalk. Just above the grasshopper was the tiniest of worms…the intended dinner for the grasshopper. I captured the photo and it later became the focal point of an encaustic painting. In addition to that it sparked an avid curiosity for the tiny things that one might just walk by and never notice at all.

As with most new ventures I didn’t want to run out and purchase a macro lens only to find it gathering dust somewhere down the road so I opted for a very inexpensive macro filter that could be screwed onto the end of a lens and enable you to get just a little bit closer in magnification. Naturally the glass was not extremely sharp and the edges were very soft but as an intro to macro it served me well.

Today I shoot macro with a beautiful 105mm Nikon lens that allows me to capture things that I can barely see with my own eye. Using that lens has led me into a whole tiny world of beauty created by nature.

Today I see the big picture but only because I’ve focused on the little bits.