“The snow itself is lonely or, if you prefer, self-sufficient. There is no other time when the whole world seems composed of one thing and one thing only.” – Joseph Wood Krutch
Growing up in Southern California, if we wanted to see snow we had to drive—sometimes for hours—to where the snow was. We had a cabin for several years and would go skiing in the winter, so I was around snow, but it was typically just for a weekend at a time. Living on the East Coast is different—particularly in our house in the woods. Here, snow is part of the rhythm of the seasons, a sign that winter—and sleep for much of the natural world—is coming. In the relatively short time I have been here, I have come to look forward to the thin blanket of white that gently covers the street where we live, at the end of which is a trailhead to a park that has become an important part of my routine in this place. Long walks and not-so-long runs through the forest help to both calm and recharge me in equal measure when needed. When there is snow on the ground—especially new-fallen snow—the forest becomes a very different place. Gone are the sounds of the woodpeckers, the robins, and the cardinals. The cicadas and crickets have also gone silent, replaced by the muffled whisper of snow through the trees.
On this particular morning, I bundled up in my LL Bean Weather Challenger (an East Coast staple, according to the salesperson) and went out into the forest, armed only with my iPhone 6s since my XPro-1 isn’t weatherproof—technically, neither is the iPhone, but it was easier to manage with one hand. I made my way from the trailhead at the end of the street through the forest towards a small pond about a mile or so in. A corridor of trees flanked what was a clear trail 24 hours prior, but now was all but invisible under the four-inch blanket of white. It was hard to believe that this was only a four- or five-minute walk from my front door. I was about halfway to the pond when a family of four deer leapt over the trail—one after another—about 30 meters ahead of me. It was one of those moments I wished for a longer lens and faster reflexes—a deer in mid-leap is a sublime sight.
I made a few photos along the way, but it was at the pond where things got more interesting. The sky was a light gray with very little visible detail in the clouds, and while the water was dark, it was also reflecting the near-white sky. Finding a composition that didn’t blow out the highlights or kill the shadows while also capturing the “feel” of the place proved to be a bit tricky, but that’s part of the fun of photography—the chance to “work” a scene or a subject, looking for a composition that speaks to you. And whether you are using an iPhone, a DSLR, or a view camera, the principles of photography are the same. My photography teacher in high school used to say, “Photography is like basketball—it’s all about the fundamentals.” On some level, we’re all chasing the good light and trying to capture a photograph that communicates how we felt looking through the viewfinder (or the LCD, in my particular case).
After about an hour-and-a-half, my hands were starting to go numb, so I decided to head home, though I took an alternate route that took me past the baseball fields in the park. I shot about 60 photographs in all and of those, only 5 or 6 were interesting and most accurately captured how I felt walking around. Post-processing started with the “Fuji Neopan 1600 v4” Film Style from Alexander Svet. I then pushed the contrast a bit, made a couple of level adjustments, and finished each image with a subtle vignette. While I spend a good deal of time in the forest, I don’t usually shoot landscape photos. However, this experience, while brief, makes me think that it would take only a gentle nudge—and a weather-sealed camera—to send me on a tangent of shooting more landscapes, especially when they’re basically in my backyard.
Photographer Dmitry Markov documents the harshest neighborhoods in his native Russia using only an iPhone, saying “Quality? Screw it, I’d sketch things with a pencil if I could draw.” His photos are gritty, raw, and honest portrayals of real life in the former Soviet Union.
National Geographic takes a look at the invisible glow of flowers, courtesy of photographer Craig P. Burrows, who uses a technique called ultraviolet-induced visible fluorescence photography. According to Nat Geo, “the process uses ultraviolet light to cause substances to fluoresce, so the light being imaged is actually radiating from the subject itself.”
As a kid, I used to love the circus. In school, we would get tickets to Circus Vargas and a couple times my even parents took me to see Ringling Brothers. The heyday of the traveling circus seems to be of a very specific time in America, one that I missed by decades. In her long-term project “Like a Bird,” photographer Johanna-Maria Fritz travels to Iran, Palestine and Afghanistan to document what circus life is like in conflict zones.