Nature’s Challenge

Winter is here!

Autumn clung on as long as it could but the inevitable transition to winter has suddenly happened.
For a nation apparently obsessed with the weather there can be no more exhilarating time of year than winter. 

Frosty Morning at The Beehive Cairn near Holmfirth

Dare we mention the ‘S’ word?
We wait with apprehension for any indication of the first snow.  Apprehension tinged with unavoidable excitement because, though we would never admit it, we love snow! We love everything about it…  It transforms the landscape like a fresh coat of paint might transform a drab living room.  Is there anything more thrilling than drawing aside the curtains in the morning and seeing a beautiful deep covering of brilliant white virgin snow?  It gives you a rush of exhilaration and amazement! We are all kids again! Of course, it’s obligatory for British adults to outwardly appear dismayed and exasperated at such a disruptive turn of event.  The truth is, however, we just can’t wait to get out there and be the first to place our welly –shod feet into that mesmerizingly soft carpet of untouched marshmallow.  We’re definitely kids again.  Is it the right kind of snow to make a snowball? Go sledging? Build a snowman? Let’s go for a walk in it! Get the dog, the kids, granny… Come on! What are you waiting for?? Out on our walk we encounter other, like-minded, people and exchange arbitrary weather related anecdote: “I’ve not seen it this bad since 2010!”; “Woodhead Pass’ll be closed for days!”; “It’s going to be a white Christmas!”.   We simply LOVE the snow!

The Road to Dunford Bridge

Then there’s the delicious prospect of being SNOWED IN!  Of course, there’s also the not-so-delicious prospect of being SNOWED OUT! 
Could it get worse, is there more on the way? How will my Deliveroo order get to me? We eagerly anticipate the weather forecaster using the immortal phrase: “Worst snowfall since records began!” and “Some high level routes are closed” It’s always the A939 from Cock Bridge to Tomintoul which is the first to fall.  We’ve no idea where this is but it’s a winter tradition for this announcement to make us remark with theatrically sombre glee: “Ohhh, we’re in for it now!”.

Sheep in the Snow at Dunford Bridge

So what has any of this got to do with landscape photography? 
I think winter weather and it’s magical transformative effect on the landscape is nature’s way of compensating photographers for stealing autumn from us.  It’s another season of possibilities and prospects. There’s the chance to interpret the visual representation of the countryside in new and innovative ways.  Snow and ice are both relatively unpredictable and elusive in terms of their intensity and occurrence thus adding an extra layer of complexity to job of a photographer.  This, coupled with the potentially hostile nature of winter weather, only serves to increase the visual value of images captured during extreme conditions.  There’s much less daylight and, let’s not forget, it’s BLOODY COLD!

If autumn was nature’s GIFT to landscape photographers, then, as I see it winter can only be NATURE’S CHALLENGE.

10 December 2022