Everyone knew the storm was approaching, and my home is warm and welcoming. I peer out the front window to inspect the freshly fallen snow. This is the kind of winter that I enjoy: when the trees are covered in new snow, the roads haven’t been plowed yet, the silence is thick and suspended in the frigid air, the fridge is stocked with staples of lunch and dinner, knowing that I have nowhere to be, nor could I leave the driveway (or neighborhood) if I so desired.
I brew a cup of coffee, and enjoy the simple act of doing nothing, except for sipping my brew. Shoveling can wait, the sidewalks aren’t demanding my attention. How many days ago did we experience warm weather? One, two, three at the most?
Winter is, indeed, a fickle beast. You either bend with its will, or it will bend your will. And that’s the way that winter rolls, without reservation.
I read a book, assemble the next few days in photo and story combinations, and sip my coffee.
Icicles dangle from the rooftop eve.
The sounds of plowing trucks travel up and down my street.
Eventually, I locate my boots and mittens, venturing out to shovel my parcel of land on this globe. The cars are buried under four inches of snow, and a base layer of ice coats the windows. Coaxed from a warm, comfortable existence in front of his computer, my son joins the shoveling efforts by clearing the vehicles.
Once finished, he heads back inside to warm himself. I walk through the house, grab my camera, and continue through the back door, into the yard that is decorated with virgin snow drifts. I’m searching for shadows cast by the many tall trees, but I seem to have the wrong lens attached. The longer focal length, utilized for yesterday’s image, cannot capture the sweeping lines and branch shadows that I imagined. I walk back up to the door, my snow-covered poodle is waiting to be let back inside, and I notice the neighbor’s pine tree.
The lone tree is covered in tuffs of snow, stoically portrayed against a deep blue sky, speckled with an occasional cloud. It instantly reminds me of something that Ansel Adams would photograph. His black and white work is the single most influential body of images, for me and my journey in photography. Ansel would create a stark contrast between sky and subject, by utilizing deep red filters. With my long focal length, I photograph the treetop and head back inside to my computer.
I slip the memory card into the familiar slot, import the images, and begin working with the trees. Switching to the manual controls of image manipulation, I adjust the sliders for Red and Blue. The sky darkens immediately to a deep charcoal, and that’s exactly what I was imagining. No one ever said that a photographic image must be an accurate rendition of reality. I would venture to say that no photograph ever follows this stringent guideline of visual truth. I believe Mister Adams, if he were still alive, would also agree with me, on this one.