A look behind the curtain at my work
Return to winter comes with a frozen price
As much as I loved my time photographing in Arizona, the desert seems to have burned out what I had already learned about shooting in the frozen tundra of a midwest winter.
That couldn't have been more apparent than on the recent morning when I made “Winter Morning,” a portrait of sunrise over the frozen lake at Independence Grove Forest Preserve in Libertyville and the newest addition to my website
The temperature had finally climbed out of the single digits into the 30s, an encouraging sign to work outside
So I began my pre-shoot planning, which included dressing in layers, wearing wool mittens, heavy shoes and socks and an old baseball hat.
What I neglected to account for was the 18 mph winds, which, with the wind chill, dropped the 31 degree, 8 a.m. temperature down to single digits.
Let's just say that my mothers admonishment to “cover your ears” was ringing in my head as the early morning wind turned my ear lobes into icicles.
By the time I had set up my equipment in time to capture the sun peaking out from behind the clouds at sunrise, I realized that I had to think and move fast. The conditions, and how I had, underdressed, would allow me to shoot for only 15 minutes before my fingers were too cold to adjust the tripod or dial in settings on the camera.
Making it worse were visions dancing in my head of those 90 degree mornings a few weeks ago, navigating the trails of Honey Bee Canyon in Oro Valley, Az., or afternoons struggling to create a composition ahead of an approaching monsoon season storm in the Saguaro National Forest in Tucson.
Despite all this, I did notice one of the reasons I love midwest winters: the colors of the sun rise can be gorgeous..in a blistering cold kinda way.
The blues and yellows of the clouds as the sun broke through seemed richer than I had remembered from my last winter outing months. I felt drawn to them like a bee—a frozen bee, perhaps – to honey.
Those winter winds also did some magic, pushing the light covering of snow on the frozen lake into interesting patterns and textures, as if applied by a brush wielded by Mother Nature herself.
As the wind turned my ears to ice and my 15 minutes expired, I trudged back to the warmth of my car. The morning was a success, I thought, even thought I had forgotten how to dress.