Week 2 - The Barren Wasteland of Freezing Cold and Ice / by Trelina Anderson

My title may be a bit of an exaggeration; brace yourself for more of that.

Week 2 of the Dogwood Photography 52-Week Photography Challenge was Landscape: Traditional Landscape. Now you may remember that I mentioned in my previous post that I am no good at landscapes, and that I would probably go bald from the frustration of it, and this first landscape lived up to my every expectation, as predicted. Which is not to say that I entirely hated the experience...

...I didn't love it, either. 

This challenge happened to fall on the same week that we had a social engagement to attend (that sounds very fancy, I think I'll start using that term from now on) on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The Eastern Shore is littered with sweeping farmland, brightly painted farm buildings, streams and trees. On top of that, the timing would work out perfectly with the "golden hour" (Don't know what that is? Google it! You won't be sorry.), so of course I decided to wait until that day to make my landscape image. 

Did I mention this was also the last day of week 2?

We left our house at around noon - it takes almost 2 hours to get to the part of the shore that our event was at - and it began to snow almost immediately. Not big, fluffy snow, it was pretty tiny, but there was a good amount of it. Enough that it stuck to the branches and grass, but melted off of the street and sidewalks. My husband likes to refer to this as "perfect snow," because it looks pretty, but it doesn't cause backups on the roads. Meanwhile, I was distressed. I did not want to shoot in the snow, I didn't want to be cold, I didn't want to worry about condensation or fog or any of that nonsense. 

Not even 10 minutes into our trip, and I could feel my hair turning gray.

Once we crossed over the Bay Bridge, and actually got onto the Eastern Shore, I started to realize how pretty the snow was. Those sweeping farmland scenes I described were transformed into quaint, and rather romantic visions of loveliness. The contrast of the brightly painted farm buildings against the stark white of the snow was beautiful. The trees and streams, sprinkled with sparkling white glitter conjured up images of a bygone and highly romanticized era. Suddenly, I was excited to make this image! I began scouting for my location, found three different spots I wanted, and marked them. I couldn't wait to get it!


Our social event concluded at around 4 P.M., the sun would be setting at around 5 P.M. This was perfect! After loading ourselves and our coats into the car, we set out on our trip home, with the understanding that my husband would pull over when we hit the spots I had marked earlier, so that I could get out and make my landscape images. And that's when I realized - I HAD SCOUTED THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD!

That's right, I had done all of my scouting from the passenger side of the car (that's the right side, for all of you left side of the road drivers), and had naturally only looked out of my own window, only to be on the opposite side of the road when it actually counted. With no way to get back over to the side I had originally planned to shoot, I attempted to find a new scene to capture.

My hair began turning gray again.

To make matters worse, it had not only stopped snowing, but the snow was MELTING! Now, instead of dreamy, ethereal winter scenes, everything just looked gray, muddy, and blah. It was a pretty crushing blow. Still, I was determined to make the best of it.

I found a spot I liked and screamed at my husband to pull over, which he did, 1/4 of a mile down the road. (This may be another exaggeration, but really, who can tell?) I hopped out of the car, it was freezing and muddy, and proceeded to trek back to the scene. I wonder what the drivers and passengers in the vehicles whizzing by me thought as they traveled down that very busy highway. At any rate, I was able to get a number of good shots and angles out of that one location, including some with a stream. By the time I started back toward the car, my hands, feet and legs were numb from the cold, and my shoes were soaking wet! 

"How'd it go?" my husband asked me. "That was terrifying!" I responded. Being so close to traffic was...life affirming! 

I am actually pretty happy with the image I captured, but this experience has reaffirmed for me a.) that I really dislike the process of making landscapes and b.) that I actually DO really want to improve in this area. 

I call this - BARREN

There are a couple of morals to this story, dear readers. The first is, PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! Scout your location early, find one or two back-up locations, check the weather in advance, and take note of the time of day you intend to shoot. Then make a back-up plan for all of that.

The second moral is, wear appropriate shoes!

Stay tuned next week for the theme ARTISTIC: RED.