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Frost on dried Goldenrod

Strong backlighting highlights the hoar frost coating the transluscent leaves of a dried Goldenrod stem

Dried Gold­en­rod leaves with hoar frost

Although this pho­to­graph was from a lit­tle ear­lier in the sea­son than my last post, it was a sim­i­larly frosty, beau­ti­ful day. It’s amaz­ing how a lin­ing of frost can add def­i­n­i­tion and visual inter­est to an oth­er­wise sub­dued scene. This is espe­cially true when pho­tograph­ing with the sun behind your sub­ject, the back­light­ing mak­ing the frost shine while the rest of the sub­ject remains shad­owed. I also added a fairly heavy vignetting effect while pro­cess­ing this image, to fur­ther draw atten­tion to the lines cre­ated by the curled, dried gold­en­rod leaves.

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Hoar frost on lakeshore trees

Thick hoar frost covers the birch and spruce trees along a frozen lake edge at the Ministik Lake Game Bird Sanctuary

Frost cov­ered trees on bright win­ter day

It’s been too long since I last posted a new pho­to­graph — my apolo­gies. Here is an image I made recently, on a par­tic­u­larly gor­geous after­noon at the Min­is­tik Lake Game Bird Sanc­tu­ary just east of Edmon­ton. All of the trees, shrubs, and even each blade of grass was bear­ing a thick cov­er­ing of frost. The sky was per­fectly clear and every­thing was sparkling — it was beau­ti­ful (and cold).

When I was pro­cess­ing this pho­to­graph, I used the dig­i­tal equiv­a­lent of the tech­nique of plac­ing a red fil­ter in front of the lens to darken the blue sky. This tech­nique (a favourite of Ansel Adams) adds a dra­matic look to the sky and mak­ing the bright­ness of the fore­ground trees stand out even more.

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Wintery details

Frost and snow cover a dense tangle of thin branches near Edmonton, Alberta

Tan­gle of win­ter branches II

Here’s another detail-oriented image taken dur­ing our recent spell of grey, over­cast win­ter days. As I men­tioned in a pre­vi­ous post, when the light is dif­fused so evenly by the low, bright stra­tus clouds that are com­mon over cen­tral Alberta in the win­ter (espe­cially the past few weeks), it’s often these close-up, detail ori­ented com­po­si­tions that I find work best.

I don’t com­monly con­vert images to black and white, and even less often do I process them quite as heav­ily as I have here. While the con­trast was fairly strong to begin with, I’ve “crushed” the darks all the way down, and bumped the back­ground sky all the way up, to really empha­size the some­what abstract pat­tern of the tan­gled branches, accen­tu­ated by the lin­ing of snow and frost. Per­haps I’ll also post the orig­i­nal ver­sion as well, and I would love to hear your com­ments as to which you prefer.

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Frost, depth of field, and details

Frost on eight grass leaves

Frost on eight dried grass leaves

After a heavy frost, even the most sim­ple details can take on an extra­or­di­nary appear­ance. I made this pho­to­graph with a wide open aper­ture, and as close as pos­si­ble to give a really nar­row depth of field. This removes/blurs most of the finest details of the frost and dried grass blades, and con­cen­trates the focus (no pun intended) of the image on the form, the sweep, of the grass. But, to me, the lit­tle bit of frost detail vis­i­ble just along the nar­row plane of focus, gives that extra lit­tle “spark” to the image.

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Another photo from Whitemud Ravine

Light frost on aspen sapling

Light frost on aspen sapling

Here’s another photo from my recent early morn­ing walk at White­mud Ravine. This photo is much more mono­chro­matic than the one I posted yes­ter­day, and per­haps cap­tures the cold, frosty feel of the morn­ing bet­ter. I made this pho­to­graph per­haps twenty min­utes after the last photo, but this sapling was shaded in behind some large white spruce trees which are vis­i­ble in the back­ground. What do you think? Do you pre­fer this one or the pre­vi­ous, more colour­ful photo? I always appre­ci­ate the feed­back, you can just click the “Leave a com­ment” link below – Thanks!

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Frosty morning at Whitemud

Late autumn willow thicket

This morn­ing I went out early to White­mud ravine. It has been a long time since I’ve been there for sun­rise, and I’d for­got­ten how long it takes after the “offi­cial” sun­rise for the light to reach the bot­tom of the ravine. In the mean­time, I enjoyed the chilly late-autumn air and the lit­tle bit of frost on the bare wil­lows and aspen saplings (and I froze my fin­ger­tips for the first time of the sea­son). After walk­ing most of the morn­ing with­out find­ing much to pho­to­graph, I found the sun finally reach­ing down onto this frost-covered wil­low and alder thicket. I had to bal­ance on a fallen stem to get the right per­spec­tive for this shot (shoot­ing down­wards, so the bright sky wouldn’t blow out the top of the photo).

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