Winter Wonderland
Frosty Photo Ops

Winter Wonderland

It was one of those subfreezing, clear wintry days when the air was filled with humidity as the sun peeked its effervescent rays over the nearby mountains. I looked out the window and noticed the frost thinly caked on the glass. The tree branches in the yard and wire fence were encased in fine crystals, now sparkling like jewels as the sun hit the frost. In my western Montana home, where the air is normally dry, this was one of those unusual climatic conditions we don't often get. It was to be a morning of hoarfrosted elements when the right below freezing temperature collides with enough humidity in the air to cause these beautiful crystals to form on anything and everything in the outdoors. From tree branches to their pine needles and pine cones, to fence posts and the wire fences with horsehairs hanging from them, everything was encased in geometrical icings. My dog's whiskers along with the neighbor's horse's whiskers were equally frosted. Fur on any animal living in these conditions becomes whitened and crystallized as their warm bodies combat the freezing temperatures.

Photos © 2001 Carol Polich, All Rights Reserved

Gear & Exposure
Batteries will wear down quickly in these cold temperatures. Thus, they should be in a pocket keeping warm near your body vs. in your photo vest pocket or an outside jacket pocket. I often put an extra battery in the pocket of my fleece, cold-weather pants.

I set either my Canon EOS 3 or Elan 7 in the Evaluative mode and have learned to overexpose by one whole stop off the bright snow when using slide film. If my subject is white and surrounded by white, such as a crystallized fence, the Plus 1-stop exposure is correct. You might also want to experiment with a 1/2-stop overexposure where the blues in the snow and crystals will darken and give you a more "brooding" image vs. the less bright image of a 1-stop overexposure.

So drag yourself out of bed on these rare and cold, enchanting mornings to capture nature at its best during the height of the winter season. Bundle up, and if lucky enough to have the sun peer through the cold, heavy atmosphere, then you will have the chance to experience nature in one of her finest, but chilliest moments.