Winter is still hanging on and serving up an occasional chilly mix of Siberian born winds and sporadic heavy snow showers – showers that were here last weekend and then vanished for a while, but have returned today. The snow is changing though. Gone are the small, light flakes of deep winter, now I see mostly large, moist flakes that stick to everything, but rapidly melt away at the first hint of sunshine. I call it ‘claggy’ snow (Eskimos aren’t the only people with lots of different words for snow). I love it because for a short while after each snow shower everywhere is transformed into a winter wonderland.
I’m drawn to photographing trees against a blue sky as readily as iron filings are to a magnet. It’s just something that I have to do. When I found myself among a stand of birch trees clad with claggy snow on a bright day peppered with snow showers, I knew what I would end up doing.
There is more to taking this type of photograph than simply looking up. Trying to find a composition that balances interesting bare tree canopies with patches of open sky is definitely more of an art than a science. Sometimes it will come together almost immediately, while at other times it takes a lot of walking around and neck stretching, and sometimes it doesn’t come together at all.
In this case, while looking for an interesting viewpoint, I found myself getting lower and lower. First I crouched and then I was on my knees, eventually I lay on my back. Looking up I could see that while blue sky is nice, a bit of snow falling would be better. As I lay there, and as if on-cue, a gentle gust of frigid air shook the tree tops and snow began to fall, and I started taking photographs.
Plop! A lump of snow landed on my camera lens and obliterated my view. Disappointed, I moved my camera to one side so that I could look at it and clear away the snow. Plop! Another lump landed on my spectacles, blinding me for a second time. Holding my camera in my right hand I lifted off my specs to shake them with my left. Plop! A third lump landed in my eye.
Jumping up, I de-frosted my eyeball, wiped my specs clear and dried my lens while remembering some of my mother’s wise words. ‘Son, be careful what you wish for.’