Natural black and white minimalism as well. To a certain extent, photographers choose (or are chosen by) their style when they choose their subject. Of course, the way of framing the subject plays an essential role. But in landscape photographs larger than minute details, it’s hard to find an uncluttered field of view. Winter simplifies.

Since I seem to have a natural inclination toward abstraction, you can well imagine I was delighted to find these snow forms in the wandering branches where the young Gallatin River is still figuring out where it belongs. I was also delighted to be on a pair of broad back country skis, a rental substitute for my 15-year old kit that had finally broken multiple places in every component, to the point it really was not usable even by an anti-gear guy like myself. The new skis allowed me to move easily along and among these streams, despite the deep, soft snow. I would gladly have spent all day there, had I been free.

These images are very new, and I haven’t yet worked out quite how I will handle them. I actually made precursors to these a year or two ago, but somehow couldn’t figure out what I wanted from them. I’m still exploring that, but this time I have the feeling that I will be able to make a set that I’ll find worth printing. In most the snow dominates, though in some the dark, dark water is a large fraction of the picture area. I want to show enough detail in both (for intrinsic and pictorial interest, and also to keep a sense of reality), but still maintain the tonal separation that emphasizes the abstract shapes.


One thing I’m debating is how to handle the twigs of bushes sticking up through the snow. I made a few photographs where these play a major compositional role (sorry, not processed yet…), but in ones like that above, I could either crop out or clone out the stray bits. What do you think? Though far from the center of attention, I wonder if they add a useful counterweight, and also a reminder that this is indeed a reasonably faithful record of a real scene (if that matters — does it?).

Another undecided is the observable darkening toward the sides, due to the physical fall-off of optical intensity away from the axis of the lens. It’s normally not seen, but increasing the contrast in the lighter tones to bring out the snow shapes, together with the relatively featureless surface, makes it noticeable. Would it be best to remove it, in your opinion?

Update: Here are three more I had a chance to process provisionally. The last has a slight tint.