photography from the ground up

Winter White (Balance)

The title of this post has nothing to do with color correction, or the temperature and tint of images. It has to do with the feeling that comes over me when I find myself enveloped in a cloud, surrounded by a world of white.

A good snow has become a rare thing here in the Jemez Mountains. So, it was a pleasure to wake up to nearly six inches of wet, white stuff recently. I dug my snow boots out of the back of my closet and ventured out into the white.


Seed pods and cottonwood trees

Growing things become dormant during the winter, but they are still an integral part of the landscape. I found these elongated clusters of seed pods and  I was struck by both the contrast between and the similarity to the cottonwood trees in the background. The snow on the branches and on the ground served to intensify the graphic elements of the scene.


A self portrait on the bridge across the river

This scene of a snow covered bridge over the Jemez River needed only one element to make it complete: a human figure. Since I was the only one around, I volunteered myself. I set the timer on the shutter release and walked across the bridge.


Snow covered chollas

These snow covered cholla cacti caught my eye; their prickly spines covered with a fresh coat of soft snow provided a conceptual as well as visual contrast.


The Jemez River is running a little murky due to an early run-off.

The spring run-off usually happens in late April to mid-May. This is the earliest I have ever seen the river running this high and murky. I used a 3 stop neutral density filter to slow the shutter to 2.5 seconds in order to render the water as a smooth, chocolate colored flow with vanilla streaks. The background is lacking the rincon (a curved cliff face) which is normally visible from this vantage, but it is obscured by the low-hanging clouds.


A snow covered Soda Dam

The chiseled geology of Soda Dam is softened somewhat by the snow. There is never a lot of snow around it due to the warmth of the ground. Soda Dam is formed by a small warm spring that has laid down the calcium-carbonate deposit over thousands of years. The small waterfall was in deep shadow, so I made two exposures, one for the scene, and one for the waterfall. I then blended the two in Photoshop using a layer mask.


The world becomes a smaller place when the clouds meet the earth.

This final image was made in my driveway. I love the contrast of the trees against the nearly featureless, white…ish background. The normal view includes a ponderosa pine covered ridge.

By mid-afternoon, the world was back to normal, and most of the snow was melting. These ephemeral transformations are short-lived, but they serve to emphasize the things that I love about the place I chose to make my home.





10 responses

  1. hmunro

    Absolutely stunning images! Usually I’m fed up with the white stuff by this time of year, but your photos are a feast for this snow-starved Minnesotan. Well done!


    February 18, 2015 at 10:00 am

  2. Lovely winter photos .Here we only have a few winterdays with a minimum snow


    February 18, 2015 at 1:52 pm

  3. I can feel the snow and the peacefulness. So beautiful and emotional! The Jemez Mountains…ahh.


    February 18, 2015 at 2:29 pm

  4. These are just gorgeous Jim – I especially loved the chollas – how rare to see them covered in snow. And the pops of yellow are wonderful. It’s easy to appreciate a snowfall when it’s so rare (as our ice storm was last year) but after the winter some of our compatriots in the Northeast have had, perhaps we need to keep our admiration to ourselves 🙂 BTW, love your description of the “clouds meeting the earth”. Very lyrical.


    February 18, 2015 at 7:32 pm

  5. Beautiful pictures. The latest is my favorite.


    February 19, 2015 at 1:56 am

  6. Beautiful images Jim! And what a beautiful place to call home!


    February 19, 2015 at 3:30 am

  7. stunning images 🙂


    February 23, 2015 at 1:32 am

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