This weekend there was a perfect winter day to be in the woods. No wind, temperature just above freezing, good snow cover and hazy clouds over head. I could wander around holding my camera gear with no gloves on (buttons get progressively smaller the bigger your gloves are) and take my time with longer shots since the woods weren’t swaying in the breeze. The small woods trail I took was mostly empty – many tracks indicated it had been well used earlier – so I had all that nature to myself. Even the small herd of deer I scared up weren’t in a big hurry – they seemed to realize it was just too nice a day to worry about a lone photographer on their trail.
As the temperature was just right for melting and freezing water I found some very interesting compositions in a small waterfall along the trail. Water was flowing under the ice, breaking free in places and splashing around to re-freeze into more ice covering the water. This is yet another way for icicles to be made and to merge together into ice curtains.
The old saying is moving water won’t freeze and yet parts of it do. Without the continual replenishing from upstream I’m sure this would turn into a solid block of ice but for now only part of the motion is suspended into a scene for the wandering photographer.
One fascinating aspect of the stream is how it isn’t lifeless in winter. While the surrounding trees and bushes have long since lost their leaves and the ground cover naps awaiting spring, under the ice lives mosses and algae soaking up the sunlight while eating what passes in the moving water. The green of these hardy creatures is visible to anyone taking a close look, right there under the swirling stream.
Winter remains the time to practice, practice, practice black and white photography, looking for textures, tones and structures more obvious in the contrasts of snow. I find the lines interesting; lines we’d ignore in the spring and summer become visible in winter as the snow frames and blocks to give partial forms and reveal new arrangements of objects.
Of course the wildlife becomes easier to spot as well, dark moving objects against a white background. How do you sneak up on a deer in winter? Park your car behind a snowback along the road in your neighborhood and lean your long-lensed camera on the glass, of course.