Friday evening and cold as hell. Was 4F when I walked out to load the wood boiler this morning and the RAV4 groaned when turning over. Just the beginning of our deep freeze season in the Western Upper Peninsula, as we often have many consecutive days of sub zero temps through January and February. Photographing in the deep freeze requires some extra awareness and interventions. Dressing in layers with a down outer layer always works best for me. I also use a pair of long gloves made for ice fishing (which I also enjoy) which are rated sub zero. Boots must be insulated and waterproof, in the event that you get them wet. And obviously, warm headgear. When using a view camera in the cold, you will discover that you must hold your breath while focusing under the darkcloth, as condensation will form and immediately freeze on the ground glass, rendering it useless. The same goes for focusing with a waist level finder on a medium format camera. When using Polaroid film, you must keep it close to your body immediately after it ejects from the camera, to allow for normal development and colors. When taking photogear into the house from your frozen adventures, it is advised to put the camera and lenses into air tight bags for a bit to prevent condensation from forming on the glass.
While there are those who don’t want to go out in anything colder than palm tree weather, for the most part, winter photography is worth the minor inconveniences. When dressed appropriately and knowing how to care for your equipment under adverse conditions, the frozen months provide opportunities for art making that don’t exist any other time of the year. This is especially true for black and white photographers, as the snow combined with trees and other landscape artifacts, produces uncountable shades and contrast. Things that are not noteworthy in July, become fascinating when coated with ice and frost. This is particularly true of our Lake Superior shoreline from mid January to ice out in April. Huge mountains of ice form along hidden rock and sand beaches that have a lunar appearance. When walking on ice, there is one more piece of equipment I forgot to mention above-cleats for your boots. I prefer Yaktrax Pro that run about $25 on Amazon. They are a necessity for ice fishing.
I will be up by my normal 0430 on Saturday, get the coffee going, and wait for the first rays of sun to head to the Upper Superior Falls on the Montreal River, walking in on Northern Lites snowshoes, which also have built in cleats for climbing and descending steep and icy terrain.
Have a good weekend-I will likely post some new work by Sunday.
“...if we consider the difference between William Henry Jackson packing in his cameras by mule, and the person stepping out of his car to take a picture with an Instamatic, it becomes clear how some of our space has vanished; if the time it takes to cross space is a way by which we define it, then to arrive at a view of space 'in no time' is to have denied its reality.”
― Robert Adams