Sunday, January 27, 2008

Don't Breathe

When you are out in temps that start with zero or “-“ it is cold. That cold seeps into your toes and your camera. As you camera gets cold you have to be more careful about even simple things. Just one breath on a cold lens can mean one frosted over piece of glass and the end of your day.

When you work with large format you have to be methodical. In the cold you have to be double sure. I often think “don’t breathe” as I work with the camera. Sometimes I even fore go the dark cloth as a way to lessen a chance of breathing on the ground glass. Be smart and don’t do something stupid like breathe.

I was out walking on a frozen stretch of the Black River in the afternoon. It has been a cold week here in Wisconsin and we had temps that were biting cold at times. At daybreak they were talking about wind chills of -20 or colder. Even in the afternoon the temps had only climbed to single digits. The sun was breaking through some haze and the light had good strong qualities to it. I made some images from the rivers edge, but I liked the look of the frozen waterway so I walked out onto the river.

It was there I had another don’t breathe moment. The snow has blanketed the river but I know there is ice down there. I trudge along the curves of the river and feel confident that the cold had made it solid and thick. I search for another image. I stopped and set up the tripod at what might be a good location. Then I thought I heard a creak and groan. Is that the ice? Don’t breathe.

Then get moving.

I high tailed it to the river bank and suddenly the grass on the side looked a whole lot more inviting than the middle of the river. Ok, you can breathe again.

I work my way back down the river around trees and clumps of yellow grass. The river looks a lot better from the bank than I thought it did 30 minutes ago.

It is there I find this image and I set up low by the grass and include the sweep of the river the sun popping through the clouds. As I focus and tilt, I keep saying “don’t breathe”

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