Winter Compositions, Part 3 — Finding Scenes in a Quiet Landscape

Ice and Pebbles, Winter 2014

Landscape photographers love drama. Dramatic light. Dramatic skies. Dramatic color. All of which are usually coupled with the arrival or departure of a weather system. But what do we do when Mother Nature delivers day after day of overcast skies or crystal clear blue skies, devoid of any clouds or color? On such days, I cast my eyes not to the skies, but downward, towards the smaller, quieter scenes at my feet.

With the previous day’s dramatic storm long gone, I walked beside the Merced River, looking for patterns in color, shape and texture. Along the water’s edge, there was still some ice clinging to the shore, making an excellent subject with it’s angular lines against the round pebbles of the river’s bottom. I used a polarizing filter to play with the relationship between the ice on the surface and the river’s bottom, finally deciding on the composition above.

Ripples, Merced River, Winter 2014

Ripples from opposing influences (ok, tossed pebbles were the influences here) disturbed the still surface of the water, creating interference patterns that made for interesting shapes, patterns and colors. Cliffs on the opposite side of the river  added color and texture to the composition, but otherwise, the granite wall remains indiscernible.

Frozen Aspen Leaves and Grass, Winter 2014

Further away from the river, Aspen leaves tangled with meadow grasses, which only a week ago had been buried beneath a sheet of snow, were exposed now in perfect condition, as if they had been carefully pressed in a book, all colors in tact as the day they had fallen from the branches.