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Chimney with white dots

It’s Tuesday, nearly six in the evening and winter in Maine. March has treaded muddily through half its days but this evening seems more akin to late January or February. It’s snowing. Large, delightfully unperfect crystals of silver-white settle through the surprisingly warm air. It’s too warm to snow. Apparently the snow doesn’t know this and thus, it’s snowing.

These are the afternoons of the magical silver-slick photon. It’s a rare and beautiful creature fashioned from a slate grey1 sky, a low settling sun and, it seems, an encircling stand of trees. Somehow the deep ashen tone of tall, winter-dressed pine and oak and apple confer a tidbit of extra silveryness. Taken together, the resulting light feels subtly sublime and delightfully magical. If it were a film print one would swear it had been through a bleach bypass process and make reference to how it is reminiscent of Speilberg’s Minority Report. Of course, this would be said in hushed tones, close to the ear.

But it was such an afternoon and I felt overwhelmed with the desire to capture these flakes and this light in a moment of still, monochromatic silence.

The first few (well, eight really) attempts were dreadful. The background was too fuzzy, or too bright and the little silvery crystals didn’t seem to stand out, but instead looked like tiny white blemishes on the picture. I needed the right background, the right lens length, the right depth of field and a modicum of luck. Well, perhaps more than a modicum. I so wanted a deep grey background, preferably the trees, but they were simply too distracting when out of focus; all those misty vertical lines and variegated tonality. And then I saw the old chimney. Actually, I’d seen it all along and was doing my best to avoid it. The chunky grey elephant in the room.

I crouched down low in the accumulating white stuff and let the camera speak its little click.

[Camera: Hasselblad 500C/M]

[Film: Fuji Peel Apart 3000 ISO]

[Lens: Zeiss 150mm, 1/500 sec, ƒ4]

[Captured: March 12, 2013]

[Location: Tenants Harbor, Maine]

1. Yes, I know “grey” is typically spelled “gray” in this country, however I find the “a” less elegant that the “e” in this instance. So “grey” it is. And besides, it’s the common English spelling in most of the rest of the world, so go figure.