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Winter Beauty

First of all, welcome to the new Light of the Wild blog. I’ll be updating this regularly with insight, photos and general musings about the natural world and how us photographers relate to it. For now, the best way to keep up with updates is via my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter or catch me on Facebook.

That said, it’s starting to get very hot here in the North Carolina mountains and that’s making me miss the cold and snows of winter, greatly. I’m an unusual soul in that I particularly enjoy what most would consider miserable conditions. Cold, snow, sleet, wind… bring it on. So, with that said, please enjoy a few of my favorite images from a wonderful 2011 winter on this first day of June.

Mount LeConte Winter:

 

Mount LeConte Winter

After a grueling backpack up the Alum Cave trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I was greeted with 14″ of fresh snow on the summit of Mount LeConte. A frigid night gave way to a clear morning at Myrtle Point as rolling fog hung in the valleys at dawn. This is an image that I had in my mind’s eye for years and it was a real pleasure to see it all come together.

1.6 s @ f/14, ISO 200. Canon 5D Mark II with 17-40 L at 20mm. 2-stop hard-line graduated neutral density filter was used to control the exposure.

Alpine Light:

 

If the Colorado Rockies have one winter trademark, it’s wind. Cold, slicing, demoralizing wind. It seems to perpetually pound downslope from the 13,000′+ summits with little care or interest in whatever happens to be in its path. On this particular morning in the high country of Rocky Mountain National Park, I was climbing towards Longs Peak when I was greeted by a ferocious amount of wind. It was impossible to keep my balance during the hardest gusts so I decided rather than going for any summits that morning that I would take advantage of the wild conditions for some photographs.

Having given myself plenty of time to reach the summit of Longs Peak before dawn, I had around a 2-hour wait until the sun rose. Luckily, I brought a shovel with me for the trip and proceeded to excavate a wonderful snow cave/shelter just below treeline to wait until dawn. This image was shot looking directly downslope with the wind at my back. The “fog” is actually ice-laden wind!

1/13 @ f/18, ISO 200. Canon 5D Mark II with 17-40 L at 28mm. No filters.

Winter Spirit:

 

Finding compositional order in a chaotic forest can be one of the most difficult challenges a nature photographer faces. Stumbling around this particular grove of hardwoods near Soco Gap along the Blue Ridge Parkway, I finally settled on this composition looking up with the rising sun peeking into the frame. The jigsaw puzzle canopy frames this large tree in the center in a way that I could not have envisioned ahead of time.

1/125 @ f/18, ISO 160. Canon 5D Mark II with 17-40 L at 20mm. 2-stop soft-line graduated neutral density filter was used to control the exposure. No other filters used.

If you have any questions or comments, leave them below. I’m looking forward to the future of this blog and will be constantly on the lookout for ways to improve it.

- Scott Hotaling

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