Yes, March is here again. Those who have been reading my posts for a while know that I approach this month with a foreboding feeling. The optimism of January and the hopefulness of February have now passed.
Last year I wrote about the uninspiring landscape of this month and the frustration of photographers who are ready for something other than falling snow and icy roads. I quipped about useless forays into the countryside to photograph hungry coyotes, wandering deer, or sad little birds that hung about through the winter.
However, just when I was ready to be moody and join others gloomily complaining about the weather, Mother Nature has thrown a wrench in the spokes with spring-like weather.
I traditionally expect March to come “In like a lion and out like a lamb”, but not so this year. February 2015 is being heralded as the second warmest ever recorded here in British Columbia. What is a guy to do? I wasn’t ready for spring.
The landscape is mostly snow-less, but I know there is green growth beneath that drab, lifeless end of winter brown. So with that in mind, my wife, Linda, and I decided in spite of that lingering pale hue that we would pack our cameras and take a drive along the ice free Thompson River to see if we could find something worth pointing our cameras at.
I had decided to mount my trusty 18-200mm lens on my camera. I like that easy to use lens. It may not be the sharpest lens in many collections, but it is versatile, lightweight, and doesn’t take up much room. Besides that I can always tweak its slight lack of sharpness in Photoshop.
As we drove up the river valley I wondered if I would find anything in the lifeless landscape to photograph. We are so conditioned to search for colour when we set out to do scenics that we forget to look at the structure as the scene unfolds in front of us.
We talked and drove without finding anything to photograph and eventually stopped for lunch in the small lakeside town of Sorrento. I just couldn’t get motivated and after that big meal was about to resign myself to just returning home to sleep it off. But as I paid for our lunch, Linda talked to some local people who suggested we check out the old church at Notch Hill. I was surprised when they said that decrepit 1920s church was still there. Well, it was just barely there, and under some slow restoration.
As I selected different angles to photograph that decaying building I realized I should be photographing its transition in the landscape. I was seeing things wrong and falling prey to words of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar who said, “beware of the ides of March”. It’s what is changing and emerging that I should capture, not try to photograph the bloom of spring when it isn’t here yet.
I began to look for the story that happens between one season and the next, the shoulder season. I realized my photographic goal should be to select subjects that visually talk about that moment just after winter and just before spring.
I am sure one could still wander up into the mountains and continue photographing winter or search for some hot location in the city with early growth. But for those that are always creating photography challenges for themselves, I suggest that as with that old Notch Hill church, this year’s March photography challenge should be about something between the seasons.
I look forward to your comments. Thanks, John
My website is at www.enmanscamera.com