Peeking through

January 7, 2010
Peeking through

1/40sec @ f/6.3
55mm, ISO200, 0ev
Evaluative Metering
No flash
Nikon D40
AF-S 18-55mm 3.5-5.6

Cross-country skiing is my favourite sport of all time. I only discovered it two winters ago but I rack up kilometer after kilometer each week. It lets you see parts of the winterized landscape that have been untouched by humans (until I come along and ski across them!!). It is also the best form of cardio fitness you can possibly do. I have many routes I enjoy, some of them longer than others. There is one particular route that circles alongside the Ottawa river. The river is stunning all year round. It works it’s way through the city of Ottawa and provides the most beautiful backdrop for any photograph of the city.

The cross-country ski route I take isn’t in the city though. It is west of the city in a more secluded spot on the greenbelt. The river is wide at this point but you can still see over to Quebec and the Gatineau hills. During the winter the river completely freezes over and turns into a winter playground for snow-shoeing, skiing and ice fishing. The section that the route comes out next to is a huge expanse of completely untouched frozen river. I have taken many photographs of this expanse of the Ottawa river. They tend to be panoramas that attempt to portray the large area. They always end up looking nice but lacking in focus and subject. The area is very tundra-esque which I have found to be difficult to photograph.

On one particular trip I decided to concentrate less on the enormity of it all and find a subject that could be more emotive of the space. Taking off my skis and sinking down to my hips in the snow I found four pieces of grass poking through the snow. It was a fresh snowfall with a strong icy wind so the texture was very granular, almost sand-like in appearance. I was struck by four pieces of dead grass as they seemed to be the only thing puncturing the snow as far as the eye could see. Getting down to their level and shooting low, I started to get textures that are impossible to portray in large panoramas. It made me realise that even in the barren tundra-esque landscape I was standing on there were beautiful details waiting to be found.