Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Winter Landscape

Before Christmas I was making up some new art cards of winter scenes, as I was looking through my collection of work in order to make up the new cards it dawned on me that in comparison to other landscapes I have made in the spring, summer and fall I really didn't have huge number of winter images to select from. So I though okay one of my challenges to myself this winter and hopefully in winters to come was to get out and try and build up my collection of winter scenics. Even though I live here in Canada, and where some from other countries think of us Canadians as living in igloos, one still has to find the "right" area to make snow pictures, I found the best locations are higher up in elevation where its colder and there is more snow, the snow that falls in the valley bottom doesn't stick around long enough, tends to be warmer on average , not long enough to keep that pristine snow around long enough, or it turns into a half thawed slushy mess. I have found quite a few local ski areas that have snow shoe trails and I think the snow shoe is a great way to get around, kinda like four wheel drive for the feet and it a great work out too, for me I usually take my 4 x 5 view camera and for my tripod I attach ski pole baskets to the bottom of the tripod legs ( my Gitzo has removable feet ) it works quite well and the legs don't sink too deeply into the ground.

I think snow is a great subject for black and white film and for someone like myself it seems like a natural fit as all of my landscapes are shot in black and white. During my snow shoe hikes I tried to get out on one or both of my days off which are Sunday and Monday and my trips were usually around 4 to 5 km in length, not all that long, but when one factors in the time to take pictures it would take me from anywhere from 2 to 4 hours to complete a hike, keep in mind my use of a 4 x 5 view camera slows me down quite a bit, first I find a suitable area to photograph, then pack down the snow with my snow shoes, set up the tripod, mount the camera and lens , compose my image, calculate my exposure, insert the film holder, pull the slide and make that glorious click of the shutter. The air temperature has not been too bad for most of my hikes, usually from -5C to -10C the coldest I was out in was -17C at Sovereign Lake Ski area near Vernon, BC, part of Silver Star Provincial Park. The -17C was not all that cold compared to other areas of the country and the world, and I didn't have any real problems with the camera freezing up, I usually dress in layers so even while standing around for periods of a half hour I never really felt cold, although I had quite a bit of trouble keeping my ground glass screen free of frost from my breath while I was composing my image with the view camera. I have found that I shoot anywhere from 10 to 20 images per hike.

One of my self imposed challenges was to try and get out no matter what the weather was like, ( well okay maybe I would give a howling blizzard a pass ), I find that I like to photograph quite close to home, one area that I have frequented numerous times these past couple of month is only 8 km from my home is the area that surrounds the Telemark Cross Country Ski area, it has some nice snow shoe trails, but is a bit lower elevation of about 1000 to 1100 meters, there have had some warm winter days so the snow melts off the trees fairly quickly and the snow averages about 100cm in depth on the ground. One of my favourite areas though is the Silver Star area, it's at a much higher elevation of about 1600 meters and and the snow depth is much deeper, around 190 cm in depth, but the drive from my home is about 95 km one way so close to a 200 km round trip, but the trip is well worth it and the scenery is very beautiful with lots of very tall spruce trees.

So far this winter have lots of film to scan, more film to develop and hopefully print one of these days, I will try and post some of the more interesting images on this blog. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy your winter, where ever and what ever that may be.



Chuck Kimmerle said...

Glad to see you're making better use of winter. I've always found it to be a wonderful time to make b/w images, especially in familiar areas, as the snow has the ability to change the shape of contrast of almost any scene, giving everything a new look.

Nicely done.

Gary Nylander said...

Thanks, Chuck, I always try to get out and photograph most winters, but this winter I have made an extra speacial effort...... I agree the winter is a great time for b/w images, many of the area I have photographed would be almost unrecognizable in the summer months.