The Face of Old Man Winter

So fellow travelers, I am profoundly grateful school was closed last week for winter break. It gave me a respite from the doldrums of work and plenty of free time for creative exploration. I have been sketching, painting, editing photos and writing blog posts to my hearts content.  It’s granted me an eyes on the prize glimpse of what’s in store when I reach the finish line of this phase of my professional life.   I’ll return to work on Monday, refueled and committed to regularly topping off my tank with inspiration.  I know I can count on finding it daily at the CGBF Facebook page.

I also know in this winter of record breaking cold I will have to push myself to head out for more than shoveling paths to the dogs’ yard, pond  and birdfeeders.  Yes, I shovel paths to my bird feeders. I am very committed to keeping them filled throughout these months of  deep snow cover.

feederpath edit

Besides, I have a resident nuthatch who scolds me if those feeders are empty when I come out with the dogs in the morning.



Here in Upstate NY we are no strangers to winters with seasonal accumulation of snow measured in feet and periods of freezing temperatures with subzero wind chills. (There’s a reason the roses in my garden are a variety called “Polar Crossing.”) Still it looks like February 2015 will be one for the record books, clocking in as the coldest month on record in Syracuse since 1901. While our snowfall total is just about average for this time of year, what is significant is about two thirds of that total fell within the last few weeks. Hence the reason it has been necessary to clear the aforementioned paths on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.


Add in the fact that we have not seen a high temperature above freezing since late January and will not until sometime in March I know better than to count down the days until “spring” because this year’s equinox will likely still be sitting under a couple feet of Lake Effect.  Since Lake Ontario has decided not to wait for me to visit her beautiful shores and instead deposited herself generously in my yard,  I decided to use this as an opportunity to work on some photography skills.

Winter is a difficult time to capture good photos, not just because of the immobility of multiple layers of outwear. When it is cloudy the light is “flat” and images lack contrast needed to create depth.


When it is sunny, images can end up blown out, as details are lost in the brilliance of reflected sun on snow.


I am working towards gaining an instinctive knowledge of my camera’s settings, so I can shoot in full out manual mode.  Often I start with a semi-manual setting just to give myself a point of reference. Depending on the type of photo I am trying to capture, I pick either an F/stop or shutter speed  to work from .  I try several shots varying the other setting and see what works.

IMG_2331    underexposed (1/2000  f22)

   IMG_2333    over exposed ( 1/2000 f11)

IMG_2332   just about right (1/2000 f16)

I know am getting better because the day I caught Old Man Winter lurking by my pond I was actually able to grab this shot of his windswept face.


After which I told him it was time to be a gentleman and step aside for Lady Spring.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Deborah H Rahalski

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  1. Pingback: March | Trail Mix

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