Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The challenges of winter photography & a new perspective on art January 24, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:15 AM
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FOR A BLOGGER like me who incorporates so many photos into her posts, blogging in winter in Minnesota presents special challenges, the primary obstacle being the weather.

Simply put, I don’t like freezing my fingers, navigating icy surfaces, dodging snowflakes or battling frigid winds to get a photo. And when you live in Minnesota, you just can’t escape the cold, ice, snow and wind, especially not this week.

Yesterday I glanced outside to see a fresh dusting of snow sparkling like fairy dust in an enchanting scene. For a moment, as I slipped half my body outside to retrieve the morning paper, I considered bundling up to photograph the magic. But thoughts did not transform into action.

Later, though, after lunch, that fairy dust still danced in my brain so I zipped my fleece and stepped onto the patio to photograph the snow. I didn’t expect fantastic results; heck, the results rated as immediately deletable:

The original sparkling snow image, unedited except for down-sizing.

The original sparkling snow image, unedited except for down-sizing.

But then I worked my magic, trying several editing tools—sparkle effect, colorizing, cartoonifying and changing the contrast—to transform a blah image into an abstract work of art:

Sparkling snow in my backyard transformed into abstract art with photo editing tools.

Sparkling snow in my backyard transformed into abstract art with photo editing tools.

What’s really interesting about this entire process is that I’ve never been a fan of abstract art. I’ve always been inclined to view an abstract work and then blurt, “I could do that” or “That looks like the work of a kindergartner.”

I doubt I’ll ever quite stop thinking that.

But, through this digital editing process, I’ve discovered a part of me appreciates abstract photo art and the process of creating it. Temporary brain freeze perhaps?

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS on cold climate photography (as in Minnesota cold), abstract art, digital photo editing or anything along that line? (And don’t feel you have to like my abstract photo art.)

I prefer to shoot winter photos from the comfort of a building or a vehicle, as evidenced in these images I shot in March 2012:

I converted this image to black-and-white and upped the brightness. This was shot on the Minnesota Highway 19 curve just north of Vesta, my southwestern Minnesota hometown.

I converted this image to black-and-white and upped the brightness. This was shot on the Minnesota Highway 19 curve just north of Vesta, my southwestern Minnesota hometown.

I used the same photo editing techniques on this scene captured on the same date just south of Echo, which would be north of Vesta. We were on our way to church.

I used the same photo editing techniques on this scene captured on the same date just south of Echo, which would be north of Vesta. We were on our way to church.

The day prior, en route to Vesta, I photographed this barn between New Ulm and Morgan.

The day prior, en route to Vesta, I photographed this farmyard between New Ulm and Morgan.

To the east, also en route to my hometown, I photographed this rural scene just west of Waterville along Minnesota Highway 60.

To the east, also en route to my hometown, I photographed this rural scene just west of Waterville along Minnesota Highway 60.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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