The winter of 2009/10 is still quite young, and no one knows what it holds. But at this early date there is one thing I can say for sure – when it comes to snow crystal photos, it won’t be the worst winter ever.
I don’t feel like digging into my records to figure out which season exactly was the worst. I first started photographing snow crystals in 1997, and the first few years I worked on it were a real challenge – especially shooting very unforgiving color slide film. But there was one year when, even with digital cameras and a refined and predictable technique, I only managed two good shots. It’s just a question of what nature tosses your way, and if you are there to receive it.
That is part of the deal with nature photography, at least as I practice it. You take what the earth gives you. Sometimes it is generous; often not. And when not, you just get up and go back out, faithful that things will change. Whether it’s hunting for snow crystals, visiting a pine barrens, hoping to find wildflowers or dragonflies – sometimes nature is bountiful, sometimes not. And often you come home with nothing to show for the effort.
Some days I wish that it all could be easy. Maybe I could fly to places where the subjects I want to photogrpah are right there waiting. I’m sure dragonflies are on the wing somewhere. Snow crystals fall in perfection someplace else. Sometimes I feel that I lack dedication, and if I was really serious I would not just shoot photos in my little corner of the world, but rather would go where the subjects are, and really produce. It could be easy… and rewarding.
But if I have learned anything from observing nature, it is that the easy is the most unnatural. And if I have learned anything from art, it is that the product is a distraction and it is the process that is the most compelling. So while bleak winter days can be unrewarding; while a whole winter can pass and yield just two snow crystal photos; while there are days I return empty handed, again; and nights dark with doubt – ultimately it is part of the dance, part of the process, part of creation. No matter what, it’s a blessing and not to be denied just because there is nothing to show for it.
Yeah – I know – try explaining that to folks who ask “But what did you do today?” So I am happy to record in my journal – “2009/10 is not the worst winter ever wrt snow crystals.”
And so here we go – two more shots from Sunday night, embedded in this post. The session was not quite as productive as I had hoped, but there is at least another shot in the works and what the heck – did I mention that this is not the worst year ever when it comes to snow crystals?