Saturday, January 31, 2009

Photography at -20°C

Winter in my home town of Ottawa is a harsh season, but at times it can be quite beautiful.  One of the conditions I look forward to is a clear morning after a fresh snowfall.   This combination doesn't happen often, especially on a weekend when I'm free to get out of doors to photograph.  This morning though, was one of those rare times.  After some snow on Friday night, I woke up early to a clear sky and a beautiful sunrise.  The only problem was that the temperature was frigid: -20°C (-4°F).

However, being a Canadian, and living in this climate, I can't let the cold rule my life.  I put on my winter coat, ski pants, and winter hiking boots, and headed out.  I use a pair of cross-country ski gloves for my hands -- they're not really warm enough for these temperatures, but they let me use my camera controls without taking them off.

Not too far from home, I stopped by the side of the road where there were some striking trees covered with snow, and a barn that I have wanted to photograph for some time.

Barn on Moodie Drive

The snow on the fields mirrored the white paint on the barn and house, and I was quite happy with the results.  So far, so good -- there was no wind, and I wasn't suffering from the cold temperature.

I went further up the road to a nature trail that I have visited often in the past, and walked to some bushes that were covered with snow.  I had a bit of walking to do, but initially this was no problem.  However, as time went on, I started to get colder and colder -- my face and hands were clearly suffering, and they were deteriorating quickly.  I hiked back to the car as fast as I could to warm up.  I decided that I had suffered enough, and headed back home.

Bushes at the side of the road

Overall I was quite happy with the outing, but it sure reminds me of how cold this country can get.  My camera worked well, and the only thing that froze was the wire on my cable release.  My fingers suffered though.   Hours later, my fingers are still tender, even though I'm sure I didn't get frostbitten.  It really makes me wonder how our ancestors managed to live and survive in this country, without the advantages of modern winter clothing and transportation.

. . . Rob Williams