2018-01-28: The frozen world at night

I have a bit of a love / hate relationship with night photography in winter.  The biggest pro is the incredibly short days which means I don’t have to stay up late to capture night sky photos.  The biggest con is the possibility of incredibly cold temperatures, which makes being outside for any length of time taking photos rather painful.  And of course the trouble is, the clear sky nights tend to be much colder than the overcast ones.

Last night though everything lined up rather nicely.  A beautifully clear sky, temperatures only in the -12C to -15C range, which isn’t tough to manage, and a lovely recent dusting of snow on all the trees.  I find the fresh snow and the moonlight a beautiful combination, and I am glad I had the chance to try and capture it.

This was the first time I used my Fuji camera for night photography and I am quite happy with the results, though I definitely need a lot more practice with it.   I was surprised that my 10mm – 24mm lens produced a starburst effect from the moon at f4; that is something I will need to do more research on as I was used to getting that phenomenon at apertures in the range of f16 and smaller with my old Nikon set up, though to be fair that was with a 28mm – 300mm lens; I have no recollection what my old  Nikkor 10mm – 24mm did.

I did have one major missed opportunity yesterday evening.  I only brought out one camera with me, and while my camera was busy processing an image with the long exposure noise reduction, a deer popped out of the woods and stood highlighted by the moonlight for a few wonderful moments before heading off.  Of course, the camera wasn’t able to do anything while the processing was happening, so I missed the shot.  Note to self, always take both cameras when doing longer exposure work.

A few random thoughts on night photography in winter: dress appropriately, know your gear, make sure you can operate your gear with gloves on, and stay safe!

I only have two images to share today, I hope you enjoy them.

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The moon was behind me, lighting up the snow on the trees, and allowing for a faint view of the stars.  10 sec, f4, ISO 1000

 

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A moon bright enough to cast shadows in the snow.  8 sec, f4, ISO 1000

 

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2018-01-14: The Frozen World – The view from my office

For this week, I decided to focus my Frozen World post on the animals that visit my yard during the winter time. Once the cold temperatures set in, and the risk of bears diminishes, I begin to fill up the bird feeders. Once the snow falls, I add in a bowl of food for the deer as well. There is plenty of wildlife to be seen all year round, but with the feeders out in winter, there is activity all day long, just outside my office window. Deer visit frequently, along with chickadees, hairy woodpeckers and nuthatches. This year, the pine grosbeaks and common redpolls are back, along with occasional visits from the magpies, ruffed grouse and northern flicker.

Tracks along the road and through the yard show just how much activity there is. Although I haven’t seen any this winter, I have come across the occasional moose tracks through the snow, along with hare, fox and coyote. I was lucky enough to look up from my lunch a few days ago to find a pair of coyotes in the yard, sniffing around the various feeders. Even though he is always on leash, I was extra cautious letting Spencer out later on that afternoon.

While it is not ideal, all of these photos were taken through my window. When the temperature is hovering between -20C and -30C, the animals would likely be gone by the time I bundled myself up enough to get outside and capture a photo or two. And trying to do anything with a camera while wearing mittens is an exercise in both patience and frustration!

I hope you enjoy seeing what I see when I look through my office window out into the frozen landcape.

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This image was from before Christmas, but it is not often that I see the male deer around, especially this guy with his impressive antlers.
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Incredibly skittish, this coyote was constantly running back and forth to this spot.  I’d left some peanuts for the birds and squirrels under a few of the trees the previous week; perhaps she found a couple that were missed.
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The big source of her skittishness seemed to be all the birds swarming around her.  There had to be two dozen or more redpolls flitting about, and every time they took off for the trees as a group, she would run around and then stop and gaze into the sky.
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This one stayed further from the house and didn’t seem to be as skittish or bothered by all the birds flitting around in the area.
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This morning the whole gang showed up for Sunday breakfast.  There were two Mom’s nibbling at the trees in the yard; here the four youngsters enjoy some tasty grains.

 

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and

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2018-01-07: The Frozen World – Icy Branches

This past week I was pondering my reaction to the weather quite a bit.  I spent the first 8 years of life in Ontario where we had a true winter each year, but then moved to the Vancouver area, which doesn’t get much in the way of winter weather, and then the past 3 years in Prince George where there is a guarantee of significant cold temperatures and snow throughout the winter.

For many years, I said that I hated the snow, but I’ve come to realize what I really meant was I hate the snow that gets delivered occasionally in the Vancouver area; heavy, wet snow with temperatures hovering near freezing.  The area essentially gets paralyzed by the weather, roads turn into skating rinks, and getting to and from work, which would normally be an easy 15 minute drive, could turn into a 2 hour nightmare.  It was the inconvenience of it, and living in a place ill equipped to deal with it.  I never believed people when they said winter was so much nicer further north.  The thought of the cold and all that snow filled me with dread.

But, I must say, all those people were right.  The colder temperatures and generally brighter, sunnier days are much more pleasant than the continual fog and grey skies at the coast.  The colder, drier air here often feels less cold than the chilly damp that seeps into your bones further south.  I’d still prefer plus 30C, but I now realize that for me, dealing with -15C is much easier than dealing with 0C in Vancouver.  Know thyself, right?

Now to this monthly project.  Last weekend I jotted down ideas with gusto.  I planned and prepared, and then mother nature decided to turn up the thermostat for a couple of days and deliver rain one evening, and constant grey skies for the last couple of days.  It was like being transported to the coast, without having to go anywhere.  So much for all my photo plans.

But the freezing rain did leave some lovely frozen droplets on branches, and a light dusting of snow yesterday coated the branches once again.  So I went out on a short walk to see what I could find.

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Please visit:
www.jennifersawickyphotography.com for wildlife, landscape and nature inspired artwork.

and

https://shopvida.com/collections/jennifer-sawicky for textiles inspired by my photography.