Thursday, March 09, 2006

Wire, wool and snow

click photo to enlarge
A long time ago, when I was about ten or twelve years of age, a friend and I found a big, deep, drift of snow below a small cliff. We decided it would be fun to jump from the top of the cliff into the snow below. It was! When we hit the snow our legs shot down into it, and as the snow compressed below our feet with a crumping sound, our downward drop was halted. Then, out we scrambled, back to the top of the cliff, and, carefully selecting a fresh patch of snow to aim for, we jumped again. And again, and again, and again, enjoying the thrill of each jump.

Until, that is, I selected a patch of snow that, unknown to me, had a large limestone boulder below it! I don't recall how far below the surface of the drift the boulder lay - perhaps I never knew - but I still wince and remember the pain I felt when my right knee hit the rock. There was screaming and tears, and my friend had to support me all the way home. Then off I went to the doctor. The diagnosis was, fortunately, only severe bruising. But I wince in a different way when I think how I might have hit the boulder, and the permanent damage I could have sustained.

It was during a recent walk in the March snow that I recalled that incident. I was out looking for some photographs that captured the way that light is affected by snow. This shot was suggested by my wife. Some barbed wire had clumps and strands of sheep wool on it, and the wind-blown snow had built up only where the wool was caught. An achromatic close-up lens on an 80-300mm zoom allowed this shot to show the detail of the wire, the wool and the snow, and, of course that dazzling brightness. Perhaps not a great shot, but one which does, I think achieve the aim of capturing that unique light.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen