Monday, January 04, 2010

Thinking about snow

click photo to enlarge
The coldest, snowiest weather that I recall occurred in 1963. I was growing up in the Yorkshire Dales at the time, and the fact of snow laying on the ground from Christmas to early March was something special. It meant "sledging" (i.e. using a small sleigh) whenever we wanted, snowball fights anytime the snow wasn't too powdery, and the ability to make slides on the ice day after day. The River Ribble froze hard enough to walk across it. On the hills Scaleber Force (a waterfall) froze producing icicles longer than a man. High winds made snow drifts several feet deep, and it was great fun to jump off low limestone cliffs into them - except for the occasion when my knee hit a rock hidden below the snow. I don't remember growing tired of the snow during that period, but I'm sure my mother grew tired of the wet footwear, gloves and other clothing that I kept producing.

Over the years I've experienced snow fairly regularly - in East Yorkshire, North Lancashire and now in Lincolnshire. And, as I've grown older, my liking for it has definitely diminished. I still get great pleasure from a day or two (perhaps three) of snow. I enjoy the visual and auditory transformation that it brings. I like walking in it and photographing it. But, after a few days it starts to become an inconvenience: travelling is more difficult, walking locally can be more dangerous, and essential tasks like shopping lose their tedium and instead become fraught as roads and car parks suffer the effects of freeze/thaw. The recent snow that fell before Christmas and lingered for over a week disappeared with some heavy rain. However, light snow and low temperatures have returned, and the weather forecasters are holding out the prospect of some more heavy falls.

Looking through my shots of a few days ago I came across the one above. It shows snow that had slumped down my greenhouse roof as the sun started to melt it, halted by an overnight freeze, and the small icicles that had formed extending down until they start to meet the frost on the glass rising up the panes from below. I quite liked the horizontal layers the subject presented - the blue-tinged snow with a fur-like look that shades to white at the bottom, then the jagged line of icicles against the dark background, and at the bottom the feathery-edged frost.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 150mm (300mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/200
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On