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.
© 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.