A snow-covered landscape   


I looked out my window and the sun was poking in under the clouds creating deep shadows on the cold white snow after being dark and gloomy all day.

It made me think about the quote I used in my article last week by Paul Outerbridge, “in black and white you suggest; in color you state.” and thought, everything is so contrasty and monochromatic, it’ll give me a perfect opportunity to do a follow up on my last article about black and white photographs.

I rushed to get my coat and boots, attached my 70-200mm lens on my camera and went outside intending to get some interesting black and white photos of the shadows being cast in the yard.

As I trudged into the deep snow I looked around at the flat, overcast, shadowless landscape of my yard and thought of that verse by Robert Burns, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”  The clouds had drifted lower to cover the bright light of the sun.  I was disappointed, but I spied a planter poking out of the snow and almost in desperation I focused on it and released my cameras shutter. Struggling through the snow a bit further I saw and photographed an old wooden wheel that was leaning against a lilac.

This time of year lots of photographers take advantage of the snow-covered landscape to create minimalist images and I thought, what the heck I’d walk down the street and see what I can find.

I could see a bicycle waiting for summer against my neighbour’s fence, and some wire plant holders in my garden. Boulders jutted out, sharp branches protruded, the snow falling off my green house made interesting shapes, and the handle of a rusty old snow blower my friend Shaun stuck along the road in front of my house on a hot day last summer to remind me that winter snow is only a few months away.

I just needed to “think in black and white” and remember to meter the darkest areas of each subject so I would not loose detail.

I wondered if I should drive down to the river or up along the road to find some deep snow drifts. Maybe I was just lazy, but with a bit of thought one never has to go very far from home to find subjects to photograph and anyway the road had very little snow so walking was easy. All I needed to do was go for a slow stroll along the road.

Even without the bright sun making shadows everything still could work as black and white photographs and that’s what I wanted. Sometimes I think flat overcast light isn’t worth my time, but when I returned home and loaded my pictures on the computer I was satisfied that this time it was.

In an article I wrote some years ago I said that a photographer I once met saying that he believed “shooting in B&W refined one’s way of seeing.”   That’s an intriguing thought, and if it is so, there wasn’t a much better time to visualise in black and white and exploit tonal elements in a scene as when one is viewing a snow-covered landscape.

Trip to Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia        

Lake view

Town Directions sign

Harrison town

Coastal mountains

4PM at Harrison


Wet Street

Hoter Bear

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. That verse from the famous Scottish poet, Robert burns fit perfectly with our long anticipated plan to have a pleasant vacation at Harrison Hot springs.

My wife and I had been looking forward to a few days soaking in the luxurious Harrison Hotel’s mineral springs, and doing photography in the small waterfront town, and the nearby Sasquatch Provincial Park trails.

The weather report was for a sunny Monday, with some rain on Tuesday and a clear partly cloudy Wednesday. So we thought, rather than abandon our reservation (with the accompanying cancellation fees) we’d put up with the showers and stay close to the hotel. After all, shooting in the rain isn’t all that bad as long as it’s not too hard. However, “hard” is just what we got for our one full day at the resort town.

The first evening was so much fun with a soothing dip in the hot pool and a nice walk down the esplanade for a nice meal of fresh mussels and clams. And we sat talking about our plans for an early morning soak and a day of photography.

I rose early the next morning raring to go and went to the balcony to see what the day had in store for us outdoors. Well, what it had in store was a heavily cloud-covered town and one of the heaviest torrential downpours I could remember.

Trying to be optimistic we wandered down to have coffee, then headed for the hot pools in hopes of waiting the morning rain out. I will say that my short description of that event was that we were getting as wet from the rain as from the pool.

The rest of the day was much of the same with occasional short trips out when the rain lightened enough for some photos. As long as the rain was light I could wipe any accumulation off my camera with a towel. And the lens hood fended off rain as long as I didn’t angle the camera and lens in an upward direction.

My planned hikes in the dripping wet forest were out, so my short excursions were limited to the small town and beachfront. I liked the overcast and low hanging clouds. But those expeditions were short and I hesitated to get to far away from the safety of my hotel.

I normally take time to wander about indoors and had packed a flash for some interior photography. But along with a wet visit to the Harrison Hotel, we had also selected a time when there was a large convention. My one attempt at photographing the large 12-foot plush RCMP bear in the lobby took about 20 minutes as I waited for people to pass by so I could get a clear shot.

Oh well, so much for photography. I worked hard to get the few photos I got. In spite of the rain we did have a great time relaxing in the very hot mineral pool, chatting with other guests, and we had some enjoyable meals in local restaurants. In future I will need to take coastal weather reports more seriously if I want more than that.