Beyond fair weather photography

This week’s Photo of the Week is of a distant island on a frozen lake, in the middle of a raging blizzard. I think the conditions made for a great photo. Composition is simple, there’s no distracting colour, and the ripples of the snow on the windswept lake offer some texture. The image IS in colour, not black and white. It’s just that there wasn’t any colour – not in the white out conditions I was in.

It’s not the first time I’ve been out in a raging blizzard making images. I don’t always get the opportunity to head out in those conditions. But when I do, I enjoy it. It allows for a whole suite of completely different creative opportunities than on most of my photo outings.

A cattail marsh in the midst of a raging blizzard. The only colour was from the dead cattails in the foreground. The conditions allow for simple compositions.

A cattail marsh in the midst of a raging blizzard. The only colour was from the dead cattails in the foreground. The conditions allow for simple compositions.

The image above is memorable as I stopped at the side of a quiet rural road, about 5 km from my house. It was just a really quick stop to grab an image that caught my eye and so I left the car running, the windshield wipers on the car were on full because the snowflakes were coming down big and heavy, the heat was on full blast and I had Christmas songs blasting on the CD player. My big 600 mm lens was in the back seat…. I pulled over to the side of the road so I could safely make my image. When I do this, I usually leave the car window open or the door ajar because I don’t trust self-locking vehicles. But the snow was coming down so heavy, I couldn’t leave the window open. And hey, I was only stopping for a minute to make a photo….

I got back to the car and the doors were locked. All of them! Even though the self-locking mechanism isn’t supposed to engage while the car is running, but is not in gear, well, my car didn’t read the manual. It was locked up tighter than a drum! So here I am, a few hours before dark, on a pretty isolated road, in the middle of nowhere, in a raging blizzard. Oh, and my cell phone was sitting on the front seat, along with my jacket and mitts. Luckily I was wearing a heavy sweater, skidoo boots and the temperatures were only just below freezing. But still…..

I had a choice – break one of the windows so I could get back in my car, or start walking toward home and hope like heck someone came by so I could flag them down. I wasn’t actually worried so much about the car, even though it was running, lights were on, etc. I was more worried about my 600 mm lens, sitting in the back seat and visible. Usually I have the seat belt on her and she’s covered. But today I was in a hurry. Taking shortcuts is always a bad idea…

So, I chose to walk. Fortunately, it was only about 10 minutes when  car came by. They had a cell phone. So I called my husband and had him bring the spare keys. So, a note to those with a self-locking vehicle. Don’t trust it! I now drive a car with manual only locks. I like that much better.

The view on my walk to get help.

The view on my walk to get help.

So, the moral of my story is definitely go out in this crazy weather and make images. Just do it safely. Driving conditions can be hairy and well, there are crazy things like auto-locks. But those aside, have fun with the creative conditions at hand.

The colours in this birch thicket caught my eye. I liked how the blowing snow muted those colours but also created a diagonal texture to the image.

The colours in this birch thicket caught my eye. I liked how the blowing snow muted those colours but also created a diagonal texture to the image.

An old barn off the road. The fence and dead grasses in the foreground contrast with the hazy view of the barn. The blowing snow gave the image some texture.

An old barn off the road. The fence and dead grasses in the foreground contrast with the hazy view of the barn. The blowing snow gave the image some texture.

Next blizzard or foggy day, I hope you get out with your camera. Most ‘normal’ people choose to stay inside when the weather is foul. But us photographers see the creative potential and so, instead of curling by the fire, we grab our gear and hit the road.

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2 Comments

Filed under Abstracts, Creative Photography, Digital Photography, Landscape, Nature, nature photography, Photo of the Week, photography, Winter

2 responses to “Beyond fair weather photography

  1. Anne Johns

    Especially love the photo of the birch thicket Shelley…..what an adventure but you got great shots!

    • Thanks Anne. It was a fun adventure! A bit hairy at first, but all in good fun. There are certain creative images to be had in that kind of weather. It’s just a matter of forcing ourselves out in it. 🙂

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