It's Official

December 22, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Great ExpectationsGREAT EXPECTATIONSThe minutes just before the sun clears the opposite horizon: lovely anticipation.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Yesterday was the solstice; winter has officially arrived!

Here in Teton Country it's kind of a meaningless formality: since early November temperatures have been running well below average and snowfall has been copious. In this neck of the woods, winter doesn't wait for a gilded invitation. 

The ski resorts love it, of course, as do all outdoor enthusiasts. Both Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole have recorded totals of more than 200" of snow season-to-date. Way ahead of last year. 

(By the way, I was teased before I moved here - a lot - about the "500 inches of champagne powder" which awaited me. I was sick and tired of digging out from New England Nor'easters so the joke was unamusing. Lest you think it's just a bogus marketing tagline, the 500 inches at Grand Targhee is real. And yes, it's gorgeous, dry powder. But I don't ski.)

If generous precipitation persists throughout the winter it'll also be helpful in terms of the water supply. Obviously very advantageous.

It'd just be nice if the plows would get out in a timely fashion - before the roads turn into vast sheets of ice. But no. "That's not the way things are done here, sister."

I'm no stranger to winter driving in northern climates but the road conditions in Eastern Idaho, Western Wyoming and much of Montana give a whole new meaning to "treacherous." Welcome to the wild, wild west.

C'est la vie.

Lousy roads can make winter photography challenging. Dangerous, actually. It's worth the effort, but caution is warranted.

Fresh PowderFRESH POWDERPowdery early season snowfall covers the berries on a crab tree in winter.

Newfields, New Hampshire
Road conditions aside, there are some great things about shooting this time of year: 

Fewer People
Brave the elements and you'll be treated to elbow room - even in national parks, most of which remain open throughout the season. If you've never visited Acadia or Bryce or Grand Teton (the list goes on) in the winter, you don't know what you're missing. Full disclosure: expect limited access - but that's a small price to pay. Make sure to check before you go so you know exactly what's open and what's not, which roads are closed for the season (i.e. Yellowstone is mostly oversnow only), and what types of services - if any - are available.

Excellent Light
Because the sun is lower in the sky (much lower if you're far to the north), the angle and quality of light remains quite good throughout much of the day. This creates dramatic, long shadows and extends the time you're able to work. Air quality is also typically very clear.

Short Days
Sunrise is late and sunset is early. Sleep deprivation is not required to shoot at the edges of the day.

Spectacular Landscapes
Fresh snowfall transforms everything. It declutters and simplifies. The ordinary becomes extraordinary. Snow takes on the color of the sky. Pristine conditions following the arrival of new snow are fleeting; hoar frost usually doesn't last long. These types of transient scenes exponentially increase the opportunity to create more unique images.

Winter is Magical
I'm sure you've noticed how quiet it can become as the snow is falling. There is a uniqueness about it. Everything is hushed. I love the experience just as much as I do the photography - maybe more. 

I know, I know - I've mentioned this before. But come on, those holiday displays are just begging to be photographed. You've still got at least one week left!

There was a time when I didn't shoot much in the winter. Once I saw the error of my ways, I never looked back. If you've never gotten into it, give winter photography a chance. You might find yourself hooked, too.

Better get busy; now that the solstice has passed, the days are getting longer. Summer will be here before you know it. :)

Speaking of getting busy, I'm way behind on viewing my stockpile of Christmas entertainment. Truth be told, I haven't started yet, which is really quite pathetic. That changes beginning tonight. The first feature playing at my house will be the best of them all: A Charlie Brown Christmas

Wishing you and yours a joyous celebration.


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