Unveiling Winter

Otters in blizzard

All that is hidden in the storm.

The wind comes in gusts as I trudge through calf-deep snow with two cameras, two long lenses, and a tripod slung over my shoulder. It’s agony, and I wonder if it is worth the effort. A few other photographers, in deep concentration, line the icy river when I arrive. There must be otters, I think. A blast of wind hits me full-force as I plunge my tripod legs into deep snow. Catching my breath, I steady my numbing fingers to shoot the blizzard otters. But soon, the whole family disappears into the icy waters. The gusts continue, stinging exposed areas on my face as I espy the creatures further down the river. I take off after them. The nasty weather makes the effort laborious.
No doubt about it—blizzard conditions are a test of perseverance for all living things. But in the wake of these storms comes soft, ethereal, and magically white compositions that pull at my imagination. Then, when the curtain lifts, new shapes and forms tug at my creative senses.

Bison in blizzard

A thought process enters my mind with a critical eye for the before and after of storms. My systematic thinking is a mix of the technical abilities of my camera and the compositional creativity of my own manifestation. Leading lines extend into vast whiteout fields, while mammals hunker down and silhouetted trees show they’ve been slammed with the forces of nature. Violent winds leave behind diagonal lines almost hidden behind the snowy veil.

When the squall passes and blue skies peek through, contours on the landscape show “snow dunes” left behind by the wind. Plummeting temperatures combined with humidity form hoarfrost on trees, pinecones, pine needles, and fences. The crystallized formations, tenaciously frozen to these objects, somehow seem glued in place. These enchanting structures make me stare in awe while the cold numbs my fingers and eyeballs.

Snow dunes

But eventually, the temperatures will rise and the frost will melt, confirming the season’s ephemeral nature. The shapes and lines are left imprinted on my imagination, and in my camera. The cold is certainly a price to pay, but the rewards are well worth the effort.