Friday, November 20, 2009

Feel the Cold

I live in Tucson Arizona and I'm a heat wimp! I suffer in the hot, moist weather we get during our "monsoon" in July and August, and I think it is too hot from about May to late October. Winters are "nice" here but I miss snow even though I've not spent many years living with snow.

I was up in the White mountains of Arizona last weekend, on my way back from photographing in Petrified Forest National Park. I got up early and headed up hill from Springerville AZ, on route 260 to where the road runs along level at about 9100 feet and it was cold. There was a bit of snow the day before and there were dull gray clouds hanging low enough to enshroud the tops of the small hills in the area. The temperature was about 10F and the wind was blowing with gusts up to 25 mph.

I had planned to photograph the light sprinkling of snow in the morning light, with the little sparklies you see when the sun is at the right angle. I've always enjoyed shots like that. But no, that wasn't the world mother nature spread before me, she was showing me what cold is like. And I was enjoying it.

I've photographed this line of aspens at the edge of an open field of grass in the summer when the leaves are green and they blend in with the background pines. I've photographed them when they are brilliant with the golden leaves of fall. I've even photographed them when there was much more snow on the ground, but the sun was shining. This image is all about the cold.

I often see photographs of cactus taken around Tucson, particularly the saguaros and I like a lot of those images but I often can't really tell if the weather was cold or hot when the photo was taken unless, of course, there is snow on the cactus. And even then, it might well be above freezing when the image was made. Communicating a sense of the environment is an interesting puzzle to solve when photographing. Some subjects really tell you about the environment, particularly images with ice and snow in them. Blue is often the color of cold, but red can be autumn leaves and other non-hot things.

When I was looking at the color balance in these two photographs, I decreased the amount of blue in the images and I noticed that, when I made the snow nice and white, they didn't look as cold. I put a little blue back in but not as much as I saw in the raw files as they came up in lightroom. As ever, click on the images to see a larger version.

Ahhh, photos to look at when it's 110F in Tucson in July!

Camera data:
photo 1: Canon 5D mk II, Canon 85mm F/1.8, 1/5 second at f/11, ISO 400
photo 2: Canon 5D mk II, Canon 85mm F/1.8, 1/25 second at f/16, ISO 400

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