A Frosty Photo Shoot

Joshua VanBrakle Monday, 04 December 2017

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As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, winter and I do not agree. From the morning of the first frost, I’m already thinking about spring.

But even I have to admit there’s some beauty in the cold. I got to experience that beauty one frosty morning.

I was initially lured from my heated office by a stunning view of the mountainside across the road. A heavy layer of frost had turned the forest white. For a brief morning, the bare winter trees had swapped their dull brown for a brilliant, almost sparkling glow.

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Seeing that view inspired me to get outside and take a closer look. I bundled up and headed to a nearby trail.

Outside, I got a closer look at what had caused that amazing white forest. It was a neat winter weather phenomenon called hoarfrost.

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Hoarfrost is a special kind of frost. It has a scientific definition, but I think the best way to describe it comes from Old English, which defines hoarfrost as frost that resembles “an old man’s beard.” The white, feathery frost happens when humid air contacts subfreezing surfaces. The moisture in the air crystallizes on the subfreezing surface. The moister the air, the larger the frost crystals.

If I was going to spend time in the cold, I figured I should do something to make my suffering worthwhile. I decided to take advantage of all this beauty and practice my cold weather photography. One trick I played with? Working with light and shadow. I looked for angles that would yield photos with both gleaming white and deep darkness.

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Are any of these shots likely to land me a cover on National Geographic? No. But in this case, knowing a little about winter photography allowed me to record an unexpected weather event. That way I can share it with you. I’ll also be able to look back years later and remember a beautiful morning, one so beautiful it could almost make me appreciate the cold.

Almost.

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