The Moods of Winter

Winter has many moods. It can be bleak in the extreme, but there are other times, when the sun shines, when winter has beauty (despite the absence of colour), and then it has the capacity to lift our spirits. We naturally feel depressed in winter, there’s even a disease associated with the absence of sunlight – SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). January is the month when in general we feel most depressed and there can be many reasons for it, which I won’t list for you today.

When we go out with a camera in winter, the landscape can portray many moods. And especially when the landscape is under snow the contrasts between bleakness and beauty can be very sharp. A little burst of sun can transform a scene, as can the direction of one’s view.

Two images today taken thirteen minutes apart from a walk round the edge of my village in January 2010 in the late afternoon when snow lay on the ground for several days during a very cold spell. They are shown in the order in which they were taken.

The first was taken looking eastwards, across a snowy featureless field towards extensive woodland. It’s bleak, cold, grim. The wood appears to hover between almost featureless bands of white.

DSC_4537A few minutes later I visited a grove of Poplar trees looking westward towards the dying sun. There was a watery light in the sky and the trunks of the trees were plastered with blown snow. Bleak again, a palpable silence, everything still, but there was a very evident beauty in the scene.DSC_4543

So far this winter, there has been no snow and the landscape currently holds few attractions for me. I’ve been busy indoors, de-cluttering in all departments and re-visiting previous winters, finding images that remained un-processed until now. Even viewing images is a powerful antidote to the gloom outdoors.

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About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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20 Responses to The Moods of Winter

  1. Chillbrook says:

    I love the two extremes demonstrated in these images Andy. What a difference a burst of sunshine can make to a landscape. The gold and silver in the second image work so well together.
    I’m struggling like you, finding inspiration in a rather drab and very dreary Cornwall. That said, the sun is shining today and the beach can be a magical place in winter.. I may just pack up my gear and take a trip to the coast.. 🙂

  2. poppytump says:

    I love the ‘illustrative’ quality in the second image Andy ! I found myself lost looking for the golden unicorn in there …
    We’ve had strange weather the last few days and snow is expected over the weekend . It brings hope of a few opportunities for some brighter wintry shots . The blanket of greyness in January can be very overwhelming at times visually and psychologically . I think your antidote can work wonders 🙂

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Poppy. I took quite a lot of shots of the Poplars – it’s an area I walk past every few weeks, but that visit was really rather special. Te forecast warns of colder weather coming – snow maybe. Fingers crossed. Don’t mind a bit of cold, but not for it to last over-long

  3. ShimonZ says:

    I really enjoyed this post, Andy. And especially because I had just posted something on the same subject. Love that second picture.

  4. oneowner says:

    I like both shots, especially the subtle color in the second photo. Maybe the absence of colors in winter forces us to see a bit differently.

    • LensScaper says:

      I’m sure you are right. Each season brings its opportunities, and with winter it is very much a monochrome approach – and that is a different way of looking. I’m sure that for people like you and me who are familiar with monochrome from our darkroom days we may find that a slightly easier transition.

  5. suej says:

    A definite beauty in the second scene with that lighting – reminded me a bit of an early impressionist painting….

  6. E. Brooks says:

    While I think both photos are very good, with their own individual message, I do perfer the “lighter” second image, perhaps for no other reason then I’m already tired of winter and the cold weather. Nice work!

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks very much for commenting. With each passing year I get tired of winter sooner. I always used to think people who de-camped to sunnier and warmer climes for the winter were a bit ‘soft’, but now I’m beginning to think they were very wise!

  7. shoreacres says:

    I always look at the photographs before reading, and today I had quite a surprise. I’m sure there is a term for how I perceived the first image — I just don’t know what it is. Instead of seeing the fringe of trees reaching up into the sky, I saw the sky as a fringe of frost, reaching down into a darker background. In short, I saw it as another version of the bands of frost shown in your previous post.

    The second photo is glorious. It’s so special when the warmth of that certain combination of snow and light can be captured.

    • LensScaper says:

      Ah – I’d pre-programmed you with the previous post, Linda! It was a deliberate choice of image because I saw the same minimalism that was apparent in the previous shot of hoar frost. On one level, it is emblematic of winter – the monochrome light, the blacks and the whites with so little of the in-between tones. And that contrasts, sharply, with how a little light, a brief glimpse of sunlight as in the second image, can transform the landscape totally. And that second image for me evokes both cold and also a warmth, although the warmth was not physically appreciable.

  8. Meanderer says:

    I love the second image, Andy; so pretty. I love the quietness that snow brings (we haven’t had any – apart from a few huge blobs a few days ago!). I have to say, I haven’t been that inspired to go out and photograph recently. I was surprised to discover this morning that I hadn’t taken any photos for nine days!

  9. Jim Nix says:

    nice work Andy, esp love that 2nd image!

  10. Len says:

    You have really illustrated the moods of winter in these two photos Andy. That second photo really warms me up.

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