Sunday, February 6, 2011

Winter nature photos -- a creative challenge

"Snowy Tree at Dawn"
 As I was looking through my winter photos, it struck me how my "eye" for nature is different in winter than summer.  During the warm months, I tend to focus on things close up:  Flowers, insects, birds, etc.  During the winter, when everything is covered with snow, my attention goes more toward sunrises and landscapes.   After all, how much plain white snow can you watch without getting terminally bored?

Nevertheless, I do sometimes spot interesting natural objects and other "found art" that get "captured" and preserved by my camera. Occasionally the snow makes a rather ordinary thing look much more interesting than usual.  Here are a few of my favorites:  

These frozen crabapples were on a volunteer tree growing behind my chicken coop.  (Either it grew from the compost, or a seed was dropped there by a bird.)  The tree was already there when we moved here in 1997, and every year it produces a crop of 1-inch fruits that hang on the tree all winter.  When spring comes, lots of birds enjoy the mushy thawed-out apples, including robins and cedar waxwings.

Very few birds hang around here all winter, but the woodpeckers do, and it's obvious that they have been busy on this old rotting stump, as well as other snags in our little woodlot.  Somebody once referred to dead trees as "fast food restaurants" for birds.  A lot of insects winter over on or inside dead trees, and winter birds rely on them for high-energy food.  So, unless the dead trees are a hazard, I leave them for the birds.  There's a dead pine that I can see from my window that almost always has a Downy Woodpecker or a Nuthatch creeping up and down the peeling bark.

My last winter pic for this post is this bunch of snow-covered dead grass.  Not a particularly rare sight --we have fields of it here! -- but it is an example of how the snow can make ordinary objects more interesting and artistic.  I like the way the blades of grass form a sort of abstract pattern, providing a contrast that you would never see without the snow:

A Winter Field in Contrast"