Two Seasons In One Day.* January 29, 2012Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
Tags: Canon TS-E II f3.5L 24mm tilt-shift lens, Elliot, Hatfield, ice storm, icy trees, onion fields, reflected skies, stupid things to do with an expensive camera, sunset, tilt-shift photography, Vermont ice storm, winter wonderland
*With apologies to Crowded House, whose song, Four Seasons in One Day, informed this post title.
I slept in this morning, which felt good considering that I need to be up at 5am when I’m working.
But at 58 years of age, I get really antsy sleeping my remaining hours away, so once I was up and as soon as I had the necessities of life under control (firewood, mouse traps, dishes, etc.,) I headed out in search of photos to share with you.
I went north into Vermont up Route 112, thinking I might find some river views, but the recent warm weather had melted things back enough that the snow was pocked with tree detritus, gray and old looking, and I didn’t see anything that made me want to stop until I hit the hills south of Jacksonville, where the skyline was glowing with ice. I hung a left and climbed up a side road I’d never taken before, and may never see again, as I don’t recall the name.
I was glad I did. The high country had indeed gotten a fair coating of ice, and was catching a lot of light:
I went through woods and fields, passing occasional houses and farms, appreciating the angle of the road relative to the light – ice storms are visually stunning, but I find them hard to photograph, and shooting obliquely into the light like this rendered it much as I saw it in person.
Up higher, maples dominated, casting sassy shadows in their new-found mirrors:
The frozen forest was a feast of contrasts, daylight and pitch black juxtaposed as only Nature can do it:
I worked my way northward to VT Route 9, then headed east through Wilmington. Crossing the southern tip of the Green Mountains, I caught my last view of the icy forest beneath cotton batting clouds, Jesus Rays and all:
The skies looked like they might deliver something interesting in the way of a sunset, and I thought of looking for a reflection in the unfrozen ponds and puddles I knew I’d find down in the Connecticut river valley.
So I hit the highway and beat feet southward.
I got to Hatfield half an hour before sunset, just as the western sky began to make nice. If you aren’t set up to shoot when this happens, you’re usually too late to do anything more than “snapshots,” hand-held and mostly unfiltered. I reeeeeally wanted to put Elliot to work and get the light range right, so I worried I might be too late.
I hit a farm road I know which leads through fields east of some tobacco barns, and immediately needed 4-wheel drive to get through the mud. It was like Spring conditions, with mud over frozen ground, and no snow to be seen – what a difference from what I’d been in earlier in the afternoon!
I parked where the road ran into what looked like a substantial puddle, threw on a pair of hip waders and packed a few filters. With Elliot on the box and tripod, I waded into the “puddle” to get the right angle on the sun and barns, and was amazed to soon be wading over my knees, coaxing room-sized ice flows aside to get through. By the time I got past them, I was at mid-thigh and figured that was far enough, regardless of my view of the barns.
The wind had picked up, rendering the water too choppy for a decent reflection and driving all of the floating ice to my end of the puddle, which I’d realized by now wasn’t so much a puddle as an inland sea – I was mid-thigh in it! I set up quickly, trying to dial in a tilt and make something of the extreme dynamic range of the scene, with nearly full-on sun mixed with deep shadows. My first step was to just shoot it, dialed down so as not to be over-exposed. Without filters, here’s what I got:
Stopping it down so the sun wasn’t a total blow-out made the rest of the scene look like night, which it definitely was not.
As the sun slid behind some lower clouds, I was able to open up the sensor in Live-View (prolonged straight-on sun shots can kill a sensor, which I can’t afford to do) and position a couple of stacked, hand held graduated filters to get this:
So much for the “onion fields” of Hatfield.
As the sun continued it’s westward escape, the skies finallt lit up with something like sunset light:
It looked like the Caribbean, if you could ignore the ice flows blowing past, but felt more like the Arctic Ocean. I mean, it is January after all!
I waded on through to higher ground, hoping shallower water would have less waves and perhaps get me more reflected sky. I was sorta right:
It was still too windy for reflected forms, but some of the colors came through.
When the light got too low for precise manual focusing – Elliot is all manual focus – and my fingers were too stiff to continue, I packed it in, throwing the filters in my camera case and my camera over my shoulder, and fought the muck back to my car. I rinsed things off and changed back into shoes, packed up the tripod and backed my way roadward, still in 4-wheel drive.
At the point where I could turn and drive out, my headlights revealed a scene which looked interesting enough to pull Elliot back out, albeit without the tripod. I leaned back against the grille, estimated a tilt, fudged the focus and snapped this off:
Hatfield by Headlight, Corn-stubble version.
Anyway, the day ended differently than it began, and I got the benefit of two very different photo shoots in one day. 🙂