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“Lake Effect” by Karen Glosser. Photo: Karen Glosser/Provided.

Hi! 

Fine art nature photographer Karen Glosser here with my first dispatch this month for 100 Days. Today, I thought you might like to join me on a photoshoot. We will take a short winter venture into the woods –  camera in hand – as I share a bit about my creative process. 

Ready? Let's go!

First, I must decide what gear to bring. I rarely leave my studio with a set idea for the images I would like to capture, and today is no different.

I will travel light, bringing only my Nikon DSLR camera body and my Nikkor 70-300mm zoom lenses. This is my workhorse gear – that is, the gear I use most often. It enables me to be flexible and shoot on the go, without stopping for lens changes. It is perfect for today, as we venture out into this heavy lake effect snow! 

Are you familiar with the term "lake effect?" As a weather system travels across the Great Lakes (in my case Lake Erie), it collects moisture from the lake. Moving ashore, the moisture becomes snow, often falling in heavy bands across our region. We are experiencing these conditions today, as we head out the door, bundled up for the weather and traveling on snowshoes. 

Snow is falling. Big flakes, tumbling down gracefully, like in one of those Hollywood holiday movies. It is soft and oh so lovely! 

Heading down the hill, we make tracks in the untouched snow as we trek toward one of my favorite woodland spots. I see the path we will take, wide and winding, as it beckons us into the tall bare trees. 

"The Path" by Karen Glosser. Photo: Karen Glosser/Provided.

These acres of woodlands are so peaceful this time of year. We are the only human visitors as we snowshoe along the logging trail, reaching a small dip in the path. Behind us are only our snowshoe tracks, rapidly disappearing under fresh snowfall. Ahead, the trail continues up a slight hill and disappears over a ridge. 

Before I lift my lens to create images, I allow the essence of place to settle into my senses. By doing this, I strive to then capture that essence and portray the emotions I feel as I take in the scene. 

We are surrounded by tall, reaching trees – their bare branches dark against the soft grey sky and the deep white snow. A sense of comfort envelopes us. 

There is profound peace here. There are no sounds of rushing vehicles, no hum of man made machines. The snow, blanketing the forest, has hushed the world. We hear silence, broken only by the soft sound of big snowflakes as they settle on branches, the path and our faces. It is similar to rainfall, yet much softer. Such an exquisite sound!

But wait - what is that other sound we hear? Like a distant happy laugh, it calls to us from the other side of the ridge ahead. I know what it is because I come here often. But I will let you discover its source for yourself as we make our way along the trail.

As we walk, I continue to take in the feeling of the scene. We have noticed the large snowflakes, and the monochromatic colors of white, grey and black. I now take a deep breath and feel the cold that enters my lungs. Bracing. Invigorating. Life-giving. 

Photo: "In the Midst" by Karen Glosser. Photo: Karen Glosser/Provided.

The air has an indescribable scent of freshness. As I breathe, I smell a light whiff of pine. Sure enough, as we get to the ridge, we see a small cove of sheltering evergreens along the trail. Their branches hang low with the weight of the snow, creating a little protected den into which we step.

It is safe here; the snow is not so heavy as to pose any risk. I could stay here forever, feeling the soft embrace of these branches, taking in the wonder of these woods. It is as if we are the only ones to have ever been here, peering out from our little haven to the beautiful woodlands beyond. It is magical.

I am filled with peace, wonder and magic. And now it is time to lift the lens. 

How will I capture these feelings in photographs? I want those who view my images to feel something. I want my images to not just be pretty, but to convey the wonder of our amazing natural world. 

Although I have the option of making images that are more like snapshots, I choose to get creative. My camera has the ability to process consecutive photos into a single image.  As I envision the finished piece in my mind, I plan the two to three shots I want to take and which I will combine into a single image of wonder and beauty. 

I also use slower shutter speeds and intentional camera movement to make images that feel painterly. My camera is the paint brush that I use to capture Mother Nature's sublime artistry. 

We snowshoe farther along the path as it winds down a hill, disappearing through the trees to the right. As we round the curve, that mysterious laughing sound gets a bit louder, a bit closer.

Finally, we come upon its source. Flowing amongst the trees, we have come upon a little creek. Narrow enough to hop across – even in snowshoes – it is frozen over with a thin sheet of ice. Despite the cold, the water continues to flow beneath the ice, gurgling like the sound of the laughter of tiny woodland faeries.

The magic of these winter woodlands has me in its grasp. Never to be released. And I think that is just lovely.  

- Karen 

Karen Glosser is a fine art photographer from western New York. Follow her on Instagram, like her on Facebook, or visit her website at www.karenglosser.com.

Visit us at 100daysinappalachia.com.
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