Set adrift


Snow in East Anglia is rare. Well ok, every winter, following a media frenzy forecasting blizzards, we get a barely visible dusting of the white stuff that melts before you can get your camera out of the bag. So, what I actually mean is, snow deeper than 2cm, that lasts longer than about 20 minutes is rare. Thus (and I'm sure I'm not alone here) I have a snow list. A list of locations I'd like to photograph in the snow that I can refer to, just in case in the unlikely event of a photogenic snow fall, I lose my head in the excitement. 

As luck would have it, towards the end of last week, as I awoke on my first day as a full-time freelance photographer, I was greeted by a blanket of deep snow. With no time to lose I quickly broke the emergency glass, grabbed the snow list and jumped into the car, excited by the once of a lifetime prospect of a day of wintry photography.

I made it roughly 200 metres before discovering two things... Firstly, the road out of the village was under a couple of feet of drifting snow and secondly my car was stuck in it. Having dug myself out, I headed in the other direction to find the same scenario (only this time somebody else had got stuck there already) and my snowy adventure had come to a premature end. For all the planning and preparation that goes into landscape photography, some things are just out of our control and in this case, the very weather I was hoping for also, quite literally, stopped me in my tracks.

Maybe I'm being a touch melodramatic here, it wasn't a total disaster. Photographers need to be able to adapt to conditions and let's not forget that the whole reason I was unable to travel to anywhere on my snow list is because I live in the country where I am surrounded by countryside to photograph... so that was what I set about doing.

Pretty as it is at first glance, my local area isn't actually that photogenic but snow changes everything, transforming the landscape around us and making the familiar appear fresh and new. Most importantly, the covering of clean white snow hides all manner of clutter and simplifies everything providing the photographer, wherever they live, with plenty of opportunities to be creative. In my case I was looking for shapes of bare winter trees, stark and black against the white landscape and for once even the blank looking sky wasn't a problem, the whiteness of the sky adding to the effect created by the snow.

With a simple subject in mind, I decided to keep my gear simple too, so armed with just the camera, a 70-200mm lens and the dog, I wandered the local countryside to see what I could find.


I did make it out eventually and managed to tick a couple of places of my list (I even made it home again thanks to the help of a passing tractor driver who pulled me out of a snow drift) but as it turns out I was just as pleased with the images I made in the fields around my home. Maybe it was the freedom of travelling light and doing something different but I think perhaps it was because these weren't popular locations, these were fleeting views that would melt away again with the snow.