Tuesday, February 3, 2009

In the Forest of Fire and Ice

Bitter cold swept the mid-west. The forecast indicated a record -33 F, but clear skies. What better weather for photography? I packed my Pentax K20d and DA* 50-135 f/2.8 mm, the only gear I trusted in the extreme cold. I set out my cold weather gear: 3 layers of clothing, snow pants, face mask, wind resistant jacket, water proof boots, and arctic mittens. I was ready for a cold morning.

I awoke before dawn the next morning, dressed, and packed my gear. The temperature had fallen to only -29 F, and the truck reluctantly fired up. I drove to my shoot location, and found the path had been groomed so I didn't need my snowshoes. The sun was just about to rise, so I grabbed my gear and headed down the path to catch the sunrise.

The path lead by a field, and I thought that would be the perfect place to snap a shot of the sun rising above the horizon. I quickly cut off the path, and immediately wished I had worn my snow shoes. My feet plunged knee deep into the snow, and I had to trudge across fallen logs. Halfway through something grabbed my arm and tore at my jacket. Those weren't ordinary bushes, they were brambles!

When I finally got to the field the sun was just starting to poke above the trees. I quickly snapped a couple shots and setup my tripod for something better. The light was playing across the small snow dunes created in the wind swept field. Like ripples on a lake created by a light breeze, dead corn stalks poked through where they once stood tall and proud from the previous harvest.

I still had an hour that the light and peacefulness of the morning would hold out. I knew of a warm water spring nearby that might make for some interesting shots. Steam and ice with the strong morning sun might mix nicely. I quickly set on my way, cautious of the brambles this time.

I arrived at the spring and was in luck. Billows of vapor were rising from the spring water. Even though the spring water could still be considered cold, it was more than 60 F warmer than the surrounding air. Ice had formed on everything near the water and the sun was diffracting through the trees creating brilliant rays piercing through the fog. It was a moving experience. I did my best to capture its glory, but fear no effort ever could.

Time had no meaning, even in the extreme cold. I noticed the camera was frosting over; fields of soft white crystals covering the black plastic. The sun was climbing in the sky. I reluctantly trekked back to the vehicle. The temperature seemed to drop as I left the spring, and the warmth was ripped from my body. My eye lashes froze shut, and needles were piercing at my cheeks. My toes were getting numb. It was time to get back in the truck or suffer frostbite.

Only when I was back in the truck did I realize 90 minutes had passed since I first arrived, and I was going to be late for work if I didn't get moving. I fired up the old Dodge and headed off to work, where the magical world of fire and ice quickly faded into reality. Did I just imagine everything? That is why I love photography.


See the rest of the images at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28177041@N03/sets/72157612625918040/


  1. Wow... amazing shots... and superb dialog. I'll be back, my dear! :)

  2. I LOVE the steam coming off the water in the photo, amazing! You must be a co-worker of my husband! Thanks for following!
    Sarah Herman