Tag Archives: snow

“Final Traces”

“Final Traces”

“Winter’s parting left us traces of its touch; a bit of snow, a hint of frost, and cool breezes, as if someone had left a door open.”
– Ed Lehming

I wanted to revisit my beloved beech trees one last time before they wither into spring. Here, a closer look at the beautiful structure of the leaves, dusted in snow, from this past weekend’s unexpected dumping.

The brightness of the pure white snow almost enhances the golden glow of the leaves clinging to a single branch.

Many times I find myself spending particular attention to these leaves, always looking for the best angle to photograph them from, as light and background play a large part in the final composition. In this case, I used a moderate aperture setting to ensure the entire leaf was in focus while softening the background details, comprised mostly of snow-covered branches.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 200 mm
1/250 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)


“Out Like a Lion” – March 31, 2019

“Out Like a Lion” - March 31, 2019

“March teased and taunted with hints of spring, but ended with a reminder that nature is in command, not the calendar, as warm rains turned to sleet and snow”
– Ed Lehming

It has been a very odd March, a very odd March indeed. The month started out as many Marches do in this area: with lengthening days interspersed with snow storms and sunshine as the weather patterns swing towards milder days, yet winter hangs on with tenacity.

The trails I travel are covered with ice, slowly receding and turning to mud. This often leads to a much slower pace as I step carefully along the paths, here and there is an indication of life returning to the world.

It’s a time of transition, of change. This year more than any others, especially in my work life. Mid-March I got the notice that my job of 33 years was being outsourced and I found myself in the uncharted world of premature retirement and having to make some difficult choices in a very tight timeline. In the end, it all worked out and I retired from my previous employer and was hired by the company that the work was outsourced to. It turned out to be a happy ending but caused much stress and anxiety as my world was turned upside down.

So, I chose this image, made yesterday,. Something for me to reflect on, as my work world calmed down, the natural world was thrown backwards once more.

For me, the message is that the natural cycles always work out, eventually and what we consider normalcy returns.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 70 mm
1/500 sec, f/11.0, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)



“Among the detritus of winter lay the signs of resignation and defeat”
– Ed Lehming

Oh, I am so done with this winter. March is hanging on, raw and ragged, teasing with hints of warmth and melting the snow into dirty gray piles of grime. As the snows recede, the history of the winter gradually reveals itself. Usually, this is in the form of garbage, trapped in the layers of snow.

This scene did strike me as funny though. Sometime over the winter somebody had broken not one but two snow shovels and discarded them on the very thing that defeated them. There’s likely more to this story, but as I walked past it, a smile crossed my face and I made up my own story to explain this scene and I decided to stop and grab a quick image.

You may notice the Canadian flag, high and in the distance. The flag was deliberately placed within my frame. It made me think of mountain climbers leaving their flag at the top of a mountain, though not all manage to ‘summit’ and are also resigned to walk back down the hill, defeated, as someone else’s flag waves proudly above them. It also serves as a reminder of winters in Canada.

iPhone 7 back camera @ 4 mm
1/590 sec; f/1.8; ISO 20

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

Iceland Journal – “Goðafoss” – Northern Iceland

“Nature was pure, and still is.” 
― Anthony T. Hincks

On day five of our ten-day Iceland trip, we drove through what felt like a rather long stretch of nothing much, as we departed the plains and low hills of Mývatn and headed towards Akureyri, Iceland’s’ second largest city. On our map we noted the location of Goðafoss and decided this was to be an extended stop on our journey.

As I found typical of Iceland, things are often not what you expect. The map showed Goðafoss close to the highway, but we expected a short side trip to get closer. As we rounded a bend, a large river appeared in front of us and there it was,Goðafoss, right next to the highway, a distant spray of green and white in the distance, some six kilometers ahead of us, yet is was clearly recognizable.

Goðafoss is not as big as I expected, with a vertical drop of about 12 meters and a width of 30 meters. Though not exactly as imagined, it’s a beautiful wide and complex waterfall, especially at this time of year, when the waters run cold and pure, no longer carrying the spring sediments which make the water cloudy and gray. This purity showcases the gorgeous green tones of the water, as it falls and as it pools beneath the falls. Goðafoss is the Skjálfandafljót river which flows north from central Iceland’s highlands.

As with many of the waterfalls we experienced, it was quite easy to gain close access to the waterfalls from well-marked access points. On our arrival, we set up our cameras close to the base of the eastern side of the falls, visible in my image  just left of the bottom center. This area is a small shelf of rock, covered in snow, at this time of year.

There were several other people there taking pictures and just enjoying the sight, for the most part, very respectful of others enjoyment of this beautiful place, including photographers, like me, setting up tripods to make long exposures. My son and I spend quite a bit of time shooting from different angles and at different speeds trying to capture the feel of this fall.

I have several decent images, but none really resonate with me, so we headed up to the top, where there is a large viewing platform, with good visibility of the falls. Once more, there were quite a few people taking pictures; some avid photographers with tripods and filters, as well as the casual tourists and the ever-present ‘selfie seekers’, posing in various positions along the railings.

This platform yielded the best photos, though I was unprepared for the brightness of the freshly fallen snow and did not have a good neutral density filter with me to compensate for this. Generally, I can accomplish good light balance through ISO, aperture, and exposure settings, but I maxed them all out trying to get a long exposure. The image above is the best of my attempts, and despite the challenging light, I think it turned out alright, showcasing the bright snow and deep emerald waters. What it can’t show is just how cold this water is. The only evidence being the thin ice-floes accumulating in the foreground, just off my initial vantage point.

Nikon D300
TAMRON SP AF 17-50mm F2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical IF A16NII @ 22 mm
1/6 sec, F/29, ISO 125

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

Iceland Journal – “Climbed a Mountain and I Turned Around” – Krafla, North Iceland

“Climbed a Mountain and I Turned Around” - Krafla, North Ice

“I took my love, I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
‘Til the landslide brought me down”
– Fleetwood Mac

As those who follow my blog regularly will know, I try to avoid people in my photos. My primary focus is to share places and things and try to convey some of the ‘feeling’ of those places and things. In this case, I am making an exception, because the ‘feel’ of this place, high on the slopes of Krafla volcano, is conveyed most effectively by my son, Greg, walking back down from a high ridge, trying to stay warm,  as 100 km winds drive snow across the road around him.

I chose the lyrics of one of  my favourite Fleetwood Mac songs, because we both joked about the line “Climbed a mountain and I turned around” as we warmed up in the car. Which begs the question, “Why did we climb in these conditions?”

We had left the waterfalls: Selfoss and Dettifoss about an hour earlier and wanted to check out the green water-filled caldera of a large volcano named Krafla. Like Dettifoss, this meant a bit of a detour along a snow-covered road, but it was not as bad as the Dettifoss road. The road itself leads to a large geothermal generating station and continues up to the top of Krafla.

As we approached the Krafla access road, we noticed that barricades had been placed across the road along with signage stating that the road was closed. At this time, another squall had come across and so, we waited till it cleared and decided to hike the 3 kilometers to the Krafla crater.

As we set off, the sky was still a bit snow filled and it was windy, but tolerable. and remained so, till we got to the crest of the ridge at the top of the road. At this point, the wind, now not blocked by the ridge, showed us its true nature, making it quite a bit less hospitable. We looked up the road, the Krafla parking lot about one kilometer distance, but barely visible. To the north of us, yet another menacing black cloud approached, meaning more wind and white out conditions. The road ahead offered no places of shelter and followed the ridge, which would have left us completely exposed when the next storm hit. So, we made the decision to abandon our quest and head back down to the car.

Within a few minutes, and sooner than expected, the fury of the next squall was on us, temperatures dropped, snow filled our sight, and winds picked up to hurricane force, whipping the snow at our backs.

I’m glad we decided to play it safe, because I can’t imagine what it would have been like on that exposed ridge and we had no idea how long this squall lasted.

It wasn’t a landslide that brought us down, but we had experienced something new: just one aspect of the raw and untamed nature of Iceland.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 70 mm
1/250 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

Iceland Journal – “Selfoss” – North Iceland

“Selfoss” - North Iceland

“Unlike the majority of people, he did not hate or fear the wilderness; as harsh as the empty lands were, they possessed a grace and a beauty that no artifice could compete with and that he found restorative.” 
― Christopher Paolini

It’s really hard to describe this place. The photo was made about an hour after the one I posted yesterday. That’s how fast conditions change in Iceland. For about thirty minutes, we enjoyed relatively clear skies, though snow squalls loomed on the horizon.

This is Selfoss, a broad, but relatively low waterfall in Northern Iceland. The landscape around this waterfall, and the higher, Dettifoss below it is unbelievable. From beyond Selfoss, the steep ravine you can see here gets even steeper with an almost tortured look, like the earth was torn apart, leaving a gaping maw of high, jagged cliffs of black basalt.

There is nothing smooth or soft here. The entire landscape is dark and sharp and barren, with a few mosses and sparse grasses clinging tenuously between the blasted rock. There must have been a great upheaval here, in the vast volcanic plains of Mývatnsöræfi, in Iceland northern region.

The other thing that does not show in the photo is the biting and relentless winds that whipped at us as we made photos of the waterfalls, stepping through deep snowdrifts and winding between the sharp rocks that line the edges of the gorge. Don’t get me wrong, this is a well-travelled tourist site, with a large parking lot and well-marked trails, but at times the drifts made it tough to walk and they covered jagged rock beneath them.

We spent about an hour photographing both Dettifoss and Selfoss. Then, looking to the sky and seeing another squall approaching , we made our way back to the car, which is about a half kilometer walk. Before we got to the car, the squall hit and made it difficult to see more than a few meters ahead of us. By the time we got back to the car, the full savagery of the storm was on us and we could barely see the length of the parking lot, so we decided to wait it out. As we sat in the car, we saw a tourist bus pull in and had to wonder how that bus had navigated the horrible, drift covered road that led us to the waterfalls, 26 kilometers off the Ring Road! Not to mention, people would have paid good money for the tour to the waterfalls, been transported through along dubious roads, only to arrive in blizzard-like condition.

The storm eventually eased and we left the parking lot with three other cars, knowing that the road we had travelled to get here would be in even worse condition on the way out. Fortunately, the trip was made safely and our journey continued.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 160 mm
1/500 sec, f/13.0, ISO 800

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

Iceland Journal – “The High Country Road” – North Iceland

“The High Country Road” - North Iceland

“I like geography best, he said, because your mountains & rivers know the secret. Pay no attention to boundaries.” 
― Brian Andreas

Believe it or not, this is a colour photo. The light is heavily filtered by the snow filled clouds that created a significant driving challenge as I was travelling through the highland which separate North and East Iceland.

The mountains are part of a long actively volcanic ridge that runs from the glaciers of Vatnajökull in the south to Iceland’s most north-eastern point, Kòpasker.

As we departed the town of Egilsstaðir in the east and followed the Hvannà river valley towards the interior, the light dusting of snow we had experienced in Egilsstaðir began to grow heavier and north winds whipped the snow across the barren and seemingly lifeless landscape. On the northern horizon, dark and menacing clouds threatened white-out conditions and the roads soon turned to pure ice.

Fortunately, our rental vehicle was a 4×4 with studded tires, which made the drive a bit safer for us, but the threat of heavy squalls and high winds remained, exaggerated by the altitude and wide open plateaus which we had entered. As snow blew around us, the occasional mountain peak would reveal itself from the maelstrom and then vanish again behind a veil of white fury. I’m fortunate to have grown up in Canadian winters, knowing how to drive these conditions, but still gripping the steering wheel tightly as we ploughed through ever deepening drifts across the road.

We drove this 100km stretch, stopping between squalls for photos, without incident, eventually dropping in elevation through the ridge of mountains that serves as the border between east and north Iceland. It’s that ridge that is pictured above, the steep volcanic cone of Geldingafell rising in the distance, offering us one final view before being obscured by snow once more. This brief, roadside moment lasted, as many things in our Icelandic journey, for mere seconds before disappearing from sight.

The colours, as you can see here, are so heavily muted by the snow that you would think this to be a toned black and white photo. It’s quite the effect and a bit unsettling when you are in it for an extended period. And, as you can see from my camera settings, it was quite dark, with the exception of the muted sun reflecting from the icy road.

At the time, I had no idea exactly where we were, only that we had passed safely through the mountains and onto the broad northern plains of Mývatnsöræfi and further adventures, in this geothermally active region, so different from any terrain we had experienced so far.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 70 mm
1/250 sec, f/18.0, ISO 800

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)