It was as if someone had turned on a snow switch. The day before I had been out photographing lichens on a sunny winters day and then the next morning we the same ground was covered in snow. Snow is always a treat for any photographer and although we had experienced a small snow shower a few weeks ago that experience was a lot shorter with the snow melting in a matter of minutes. This time around the ground was covered in a good few inches of snow and I was raring to get out and take some photographs.
First thing was to head up to some private land I have access to set up a long and low hide. With snow being such a rarity down south I wanted to make the most of the opportunity. The low angle of the hide opening meant that I would be able to get a clean snowy foreground to my images. Although it was bitingly cold with arctic like conditions I got the hide up in no time. With the hide in position I set about putting some bird food and apples in front of the hide ready for the next day to attract the wildlife in.
The next morning I got into the hide, after walking through the coldest snow blizzard. Once in the hide I slowly warmed up, it’s crazy what a difference it makes when you’re out of the wind. It was just coming up to dawn when the first, and unfortunately only, visitors turned up. A pair of Carrion crows had come in to investigate the new setup. The hide was great to get the type of shots I was after, a lovely low angle of the view in front. At first they were a little distant but came a little closer. They didn’t stay too long but it was proof that the setup worked !
Having spent a few hours in the hide with nothing but cold hands to show for it I headed home to see what other subjects I could photograph in the garden. Again I set up a couple of hide, one at a higher angle to photograph birds coming in to the bird feeders and again another to photograph from a much lower angle. I started with the bird feeders first and although it took a while some of the smaller bird species showed up. The first were a pair of Blue tits that flitted in and amongst the bushes before hoping onto the perch I had placed next to the bird feeder. They have some really cool markings on their head which always gives them an angry looking expression when they look at you head on.
The snow shower picked up just as the Great tit arrived. A slightly bigger bird it came a closer to the hide and perched on a large tree stump. With the snow shower adding the atmosphere and the snow underneath acting as a giant light reflector it made for quite a wintery scene.
The low angle from the other hide was great and after having a successful time I swapped to use this hide as the snow was getting heavier creating a thicker blanket on the ground. The main stars of this setup were the local Jackdaw gang who where using their bills to sift through the snow to look for food that had fallen from the bird feeders above. I have never really photographed animals in the snow properly and I was having a ball. Photographing wildlife in the snow is like photographing on a blank canvas and the concentration is directly focused on the subject. Most might view a Jackdaw or any corvid species for that matter as a drab and dull looking bird but the snow gives them a certain glow.
With the snowfall picking up and the wind slowing down I wanted to try and photograph something I had never photographed before. One of natures most delicate and perfect designs, the snowflake. I wanted to isolate the snowflake and really highlight the detail in each individual star. So grabbing my black snapback cap I placed it on the patio table and waited. I used a flash and soft box to help bring out the details and also get a high enough shutter speed to freeze the detail. It is truly remarkable that no two snowflake are the same and yet each is perfect in it’s own individual way. I think that is something we can all take away from nature.