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.
We were hit hard with a winter storm this past week; one that communities south of us are still recovering from.
I am happy to be sitting at my desk with the power restored after a few days without. It makes one feel grateful and appreciative for all that we do have. We were warm and toasty, aided by our wood stove. We weren’t hungry. We had candles and flashlights and we were together as a family.
Winter brings these kinds of storms that depending on the timing, can wreak havoc in the Northern climes but you won’t hear me complain.
Winter also brings a beauty with it that is varied and intricate. Always changing the landscape and added a layer of simplicity as it gently blankets the debris left behind in the fall.
With it comes the freezing temperatures that paint everything from trees to windshields with frost; when the sun makes its way up, the world then sparkles as it hits these formations.
When temperatures warm up it creates the perfect atmosphere for snow making. Snow can be clumpy and fast building and at other times precise and crystalline in its structure. Those are the ones that I love to capture, each one unique. One has to work fast though to capture these before they drift away.
One of my favorite times is when I wake up to a world filled with hoar frost which is formed at temperatures below freezing by the direct condensation of water vapor to ice. These structures are amazing and can be tiny or quite large in formation. They remind me of frozen feathers and if you walk through them you can hear a tinkling sound.
I don’t hate winter, I relish the beauty that it will bring to the landscape and the photo opportunities that come with it.
Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun.
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.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.
Edgar Allan Poe
I have never been accused of lacking in imagination and while sometimes I wake up from a night’s sleep and wonder what on earth?!? other times I wake up with a smile thinking about a grand adventure.
While I find pleasure in the long days and warm nights of summer watching the milky way arc across the night sky my thoughts do begin to drift towards winter. Perhaps that was where this idea came from…not powder but light, not snowflakes but stars.
I recently added a layer program called Perfect Layers to my Lightroom which allows me to blend a couple of images into a composite. I have not been a fan of composite images unless they have been true double exposures and not images intended to trick the viewer but this program allowed me to construct an image that represented a dream…pure fantasy.
I think a vivid imagination is a gift to be treasured and nurtured and honestly …who wouldn’t want to carve out a line spraying stars across the night sky?