Jim Salge Photography Blog

Images of New England captured in dramatic light and atmosphere

Screwing up the Pristine Scene…

Winter in New England conjures up romanticized scenes of perfect light snowfalls coating the trees, with a red barn and stone walls and large fields of unspoiled snow. Maybe a small stream runs through the scene with a white church steeple in the background. The reality of these scenes is that the snow rarely stays perfect for long. Heck, in the real dead of New England winter, the streams are frozen over and the snow is too dry to stay in the trees.

Here’s the truth to these classic New England scenes. They aren’t ever truly perfect. Photography in winter, like any season, is finding the best conditions possible, and making them work for the scene.

When you arrive at your nearly perfect scene, the challenge becomes not screwing it up while scouting it. It’s different than in summer, in summer you can walk almost anywhere without leaving much of a trace. Winter records your every move. Move into a scene too fast, want to move back, your shot has a trace of you in it. It’s no longer pristine. No longer perfect.

I tend to work a winter scene in large arcs. Finding every distant angle for a shot before exploring in closer. I make sure that everyone else in my party is done with a scene before moving in, just as a courtesy. I creep inwards methodically, exploring any opportunity for a composition. Winter shooting takes patience. There is no eraser. And when I’m done, all to often, so is the perfect scene. Winter’s beauty is fleeting…

And thus I present this morning’s scene in three acts. The wide scouting arc. The scene. The aftermath.

Scouting the Scene on the Riverbank...

Scouting the Scene on the Riverbank...

The Scene...Hoar Frost on the Lamprey River

The Scene...Hoar Frost on the Lamprey River

The Aftermath...

The Aftermath...

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One Response to “Screwing up the Pristine Scene…”

  1. Sue Kelly says:

    Jim, this is such a good blog on photographers’ etiquette! Impossible to leave the scene pristine, but at least you wait for nearby photographers to be ready. The ethic holds true in summer, too. Be aware of other photographers around you and don’t monopolize the foreground! Thanks for bringing up the subject- food for thought!

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