“Fire and Ice” was the name of the annual festival held on High Street in Mt. Holly, New Jersey. The fire in the title refers to a chili cook-off contest. I stayed immersed in the ice part of this, very crowded at times, event. This was my second year, with the first being very enlightening and the temps on the warm side… lots of melting. Opposite of last time, the temps were a perfect 19 degrees in the morning which steadily rose to a toasty 23 by noon.
The forming of a three-dimensional figure from a solid piece of ice was fascinating to this photographer. My challenge was to try and create an image with depth on a flat surface. That surface never wavered, whether viewed on the screen or in print format. These artists visually saw the figure they wanted to create within that one-dimensional surface. I watched in amazement at how a crude block of ice transformed into a glistening piece of art. The process seemed rough and loud at times because of the tools that were used, but the end product was well worth the wait.
On the shooting side, this year was just as challenging as the year before. For a photographer, bridging the gap between bright sunlight and deep shadows provided one heck of an exposure dilemma. I looked at it this way, take the risk and maybe come away with the reward. Getting in close was foremost on my mind. I wanted to show the grit and emotions of the artists and deliver that to the viewer. Mixing shots of what is around at an event, with the core of what is happening, fell into place for me. From the huskies and their smoldering eyes to the whimsy of the people around, I blended into the crowd. With the click of my ice-cold fingers, I began to capture frozen moments in time. I could only hope to bring as much depth and artistry, from around me, into my photographs. Each time I shoot an event or place I try to peel away the layers of what I see and feel. In this case, I developed a feeling of ‘oneness’ with the artist… both chipping away until we had created a body of work.
Besides the obvious cold… winter can be magical. It’s mesmerizing to see how frost can capture nature in frigid moments. You can get lost in all the icy mosaics that are formed in trees and fields while, ponds and lakes take on a more abstract look. The swirls and bubbles that are frozen in time make for very creative patterns. Where I live, snow fall can be elusive as it comes in either knee-deep drifts, or a lite dusting. Its silent presence is breath-taking, in more ways than one. I find the experience of shooting during a snowfall to be very different then that of shooting the aftermath. Fresh snow seems to evoke a quiet, eerie otherworldly feeling. The size and rate of its descent can also have a dramatic effect on a composition so much so that, the final photograph can turn out very different then what was originally seen.
How do you capture this feeling in a photograph? Do you show the romantic side or its twisted finale. I found I could not choose. Just as my feelings and moods change, so do the cold frozen moments that materialize in front of my lens. I must eventually rely on form and contrast to guide me. It is helpful to stop and take it all in, feel the tiny flakes melt on your face, let your breath fog things up—- eventually you experience a more visual energy. I, like my subjects, also feel the cold settle in and slow my movements. My time here is done, but my photographs will hopefully freeze this time of year for all to relive as…. we patiently count the days till the vernal equinox.