Winter 2021 Update
Meditation in Winter Light
The confluence of low-angle sun, clouds, fog, overcast, wind, rain, and snow often makes Winter my preferred season for portraiture. Low temperatures, too, contribute as fur is fluffed and feathers are puffed, catching the wind and changing light unpredictably.
Like much of the rest of the country, Winter 2021 brought sequential sieges of deep cold, high winds and snow to the Ortiz Mountains. Unlike periods of snow in previous years I see resident coyotes with frequency; the ravens take delight in Winter and seem to enjoy wind and snow even as ice forms on their collars.
Raven perversity increases with the heavy winds and snow. Groups of airborne ravens gang-buzz and dive-peck the coyotes, sufficient torment to drive the canids into enveloping shrouds of blowing snow.
Photographing coyotes and ravens in swirling near-blizzards and sub-zero temperatures is humbling; photographing the species together in these conditions is more so.
But the dance of light and shadow and sudden shifts of tones and contrasts is frosty magic. And I find myself for the moment in an unexpected, nearly-complete return to Black and White.
I didn’t shoot much color film; I wasn’t equipped to process it and my heroes, with the exception of Eliot Porter, all worked in BW.
Digital changed that for me.
Fall and Spring colors in New Mexico are eyeball-thumping, oddly making me recall childhood and the exuberant palette of Uganda after the onset of rain: were there seven or were there eight distinct shades of green then and there?
Embracing Black and White again this winter feels like exhaling after a reunion with an elegant lover from long ago. Or perhaps it is fulfillment of something left abruptly and incomplete, an expected outcome reached over an unexpected path.
Yet in February the first cholla and prickly pear buds assert themselves beneath the dusting of snow, hinting Spring and torrents of color sure to follow….