Winter Evening

Night Barn

The up and down weather around western NY prevented me from getting out for a hike again this week. It seems every free day I get is the one where it is 38F, dark, and raining. All the nice crunchy cold days with the sparkling white snow and the crystal blue skies pass by my office window – so near and yet so far. Oh well (at least we escaped the ice storm that trashed communities further east – been there, done that).

My day off started out with a few inches of snow on the ground, but it was quickly scribbled out by a warm (relatively) rain. By late afternoon however, Mother Nature decided that on second thought maybe the snow was a better idea so the temps started falling and the rain changed to snow. When Evening arrived he found all the tree branches outlined in white and a fresh clean coverlet of snow spread over the ground. It’s like the rain never happened.
Barn
With the light waning fast, I decided I had to get out and feel the air for at least a few minutes. I took my camera supposedly to take some shots of the Christmas lights on the house – I got sidetracked.

An owl beckoned me over to the woods and I just wandered for a little while. The farm yard light glowing through the trees eventually drew me back out of the darkness.

I once photographed some trees illuminated by street lights back when I was in college. They were just snaps and didn’t turn out that good so I haven’t done it since. The scene before me now begged me to take another shot at it. The bright light perched high on its telephone pole showed up the new snow with brilliance and surrounded everything with deep inky shadows. Just the kind of dark/light play I like.
Door and Sled
I had been thinking about photographing trees at night ever since I saw a show of O. Winston Link  nighttime railroad photos at the George Eastman House. As usual the computer images do not do the prints justice. Link was so meticulous in his staging and lighting that the images don’t seem staged at all and the darkness surrounding the scenes serves to accentuate the power and romance of the great engines.

While not up Link standards, some of the shots aren’t too bad in a “shot from the hip using existing man-made light” sort of way. The light was a mercury vapor so everything took on a green cast. The ones I converted to black and white (hey, black and white from me; will wonders never cease?) obviously got rid of the green cast. The one I left in color, I adjusted with the white point tool – it did pretty good, but I can still see a bit of green in the building walls which I really don’t mind.

Wires

I found out that this is a situation where I really needed to use the camera’s histogram function and not to rely on the preview screen. Everything looks happy and bright on that little screen when viewing it in dark surroundings, but when I got home I found most of the shots to be under exposed. Good thing I bracketed my exposures and got a little help from my computer to bring them back from the dark abyss.

I think I might try something like this again sometime.

MDW

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6 Responses to “Winter Evening”

  1. flandrumhill Says:

    Beautiful photos. Could it be that nightlight reveals more of the inner quality of things than daylight?

    Surprised to read your reference to evening as ‘he.’ I would have thought that evening was closer to night than day, and consequently more yin (female) than yang (male).

  2. forestrat Says:

    Interesting.

    I thought of evening as masculine just because it struck me that way at the time and maybe because I’ve read often enough of the dawn described in feminine terms so I figured the evening should be the opposite.

    I did a little quick research to see why this might be so. It seems that the Greeks viewed the dawn as feminine in the form of Eos goddess of the dawn that opens the gates of heaven for Apollo to ride his chariot across the sky each day. Hesperus is the god of evening while the goddess of night is Nyx. So we have a female/male and then a male/female thing going on here.

    This may even fit with the Tao thing since if day is Yang and night is Yin, the intersection of the two could be both Yin and Yang. Or perhaps it could be considered one or the other depending on where one draws the line as you pointed out.

    I’m afraid I’m not enough of a philosopher to go much further than this.

    MDW

  3. flandrumhill Says:

    Looking into my old mythology texts I found that Eos, when accompanied by the Sun into the west, becomes known as Hespera. This is one of the names of the Hesperides, the daughters of the Evening (Hesperus). This seems less confusing if I think in terms of yin and yang, where there is always a bit of one in the other.

    It also dawned on me that the French and German words for evening (le soir /der Abend) are both masculine. Considering I learned French before English, this left me wondering why I might possibly think the evening is female. In his Ode to Evening, Joseph Warton calls her a ‘meek-ey’d maiden, clad in sober grey, whose soft approach the weary woodman loves.’ For some unknown reason, this is how I see evening in my mind’s eye.

    Regardless of all of the above, you have done well in capturing the essence of the evening in both your words and photos.

  4. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Nice black and whites. I like these scrambles of branches.
    The barn door is beautiful – reserved in its colouration – and the composition works for me.
    I’m rather fond of weathered fences and doorways. Your is a very personable one.
    K

  5. forestrat Says:

    K,

    The barn door and the sled just didn’t work for me in B&W. As you mentioned, the reserved color of most of the image set off with a touch of bright red is the thing. The color makes the shot here where the forms are more the subject in the others.

    BTW – My sister uses the sled to haul feed out to the horses – we run a low budget shop around here.

    MDW

  6. forestrat Says:

    flandrum,

    Thanks for some more info on the evening. When ascribing character to nature we may find out as much about ourselves as we do about the scene we are describing.

    MDW

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