Saturday, February 27, 2010

FRESH SNOW—HOORAY!

Yesterday was thick with snow—wave after wave of swirling white, light and fluffy, that filled the air and, at times, made you think things were getting serious. Most of it didn't stick, not until late afternoon when it finally started to dust over the bare spots. In the end, here along the river we received something less than two inches—just enough to cover and renew what was left of the old stuff still remaining on the ground. About half of that, I think, fell during the night.
Birds are flocking to the feeders, as they always do during and following a snowfall. Of course the cardinals were already waiting for their breakfast measure of cracked corn when I went outside first thing, before Myladylove and I took our own meal. I could hear them grumbling in the darkness. I'm afraid they're going to have to learn patience, since dawn comes ever earlier and I'm not going to alter my getting-up time to suite a bunch of spoiled redbirds.
Another bird that seemed out of sorts was a starling that glared at me from a patch of snow-covered stalks in one of the flower beds. I don't know what his problem was, since the seed and suet feeders were full, the corn was on the ground, and I'd even tossed out a few bits of apples and oranges from a fruit salad. Luckily, I don't have all that many starlings to deal with. In fact, this has been the first winter I've had even a few hang about.
As I stood on the deck this morning and looked around, I was, as always, mildly surprised by how much whiter and brighter a layer of fresh snow appears. Like recently purchased sheets and pillowcases just out of their packaging, placed side-by-side with sets in the linen closet. In spite of being scrupulously washed and bleached, in comparison the older ones always look a bit dull and dingy. The eye, good as it is, sometimes needs such juxtapositions of contrast and tonal scale.
One of the things I soon learned in darkroom work was that photographic papers for making black-and-white prints were all different—that is to say the same rendered tones on a finished print differed depending on brands and product lines. Black was not just black, and white was not just white, but rather a hundred variations of each—some "warmer," others "cooler," depending on the paper used. Developers and fixers—those chemical bathes employed to cause the actual image retained on the paper after it has been exposed to focused light shined through a negative in an enlarger—could also alter the tonality and contrast of the blacks and whites and dozens of in-between grays of the finished print. Even viewed under the dimmest of darkroom safelights—illumination considerably less than that of a single candle flame—a good printer and darkroom technician can see these variations and employ them to his advantage. And you'd be surprised how much this comes into play in fine printmaking—how awful an image can look when printed on the "wrong" paper, and how great it can look when it's matched correctly.
Another place such fine-tuned "seeing" makes a real difference is when sorting pearls. Natural pearls come in all shades and tonal hues. If you're paying the price for a genuine wild pearl necklace, every pearl on the string must match in terms of color. I've heard the very best pearl sorters can differentiate among a couple hundred hues.
This morning we've received the benefit of another seasonal whitewashing. The world is clean, lustrous amid refulgent light. Whether it will prove to be the final snowfall of this winter or not is anybody's guess. Most everyone else I know is tired of winter, tired of the cold, tired of seeing white. If you'd have asked me yesterday, I might have said I was, too. I'm fine to see one more frosting on the seasonal cake.
I say hooray for fresh snow!
———————

14 comments:

Lorac said...

I agree - Hooray! We just received over a foot of the white stuff and more coming. I like how it looks too! Don't like to shovel it though.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Hi Scribe: Enjoyed reading your offering today. LOVE that picture with the white snow setting off the dark tones of the bird. I usually find starlings somewhat unremarkable (I should know better) but that one is beautiful!

Very interesting info on tones of colour and the number of variations in what we so easily assume are simply black and white. My DH has owned printing companies for years and had printing presses, from Germany, as long as city blocks. He, too, has shown me many times the differences paper, paper finishes, ink, light, degrees of, etc. etc. can make to the finished product. People have no idea the variations there are in white and black tones, shades, hues. Perhaps when they decide to paint a room white -they get a little taste of the number of options!

In almost everything, as you so deftly point out, there are variations on a theme. Makes life exciting, mysterious and fascinating - as are your postings dear Scribe.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Lorac…

I'm not a big fan of shoveling snow, either. Though it has to be done, sometimes, I'm definitely a minimalist.

A fluffy little snow such as yesterday's, however, can simply be enjoyed for its beauty. This is winter, after all. If you love winter as a season—which I certainly do—you have to love snow. So again…hooray for fresh snow!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bonnie…

Not much in nature completely lacks beauty; usually it's a matter of our perspective or context, or we look at things too hastily or inadequately. And sometimes it's simply our unwillingness to see. A starling, when examined and considered without all the prejudices and negative baggage, is a lovely bird.

It's not the light reaching our eyes, but the light blinding our hearts that's the problem.

I did a lot of fine-arts photo printing for years—for myself and others, including photographers whose work hangs in various museums. The fellow who got me started in photography insisted I buy an enlarger and the darkroom basics the day I bought my first 35mm camera and lens. I processed every roll of B&W film I ever shot—and I loved darkroom work. Given my perfectionist nature, after a thousand rolls of film and God knows how many B&W prints (for my magazine pieces and just for fun) I got pretty good at printmaking and the photographic process…from pre-visualization to making an enlarged print. Film, exposure, chemistry, paper, toning—all contribute to the outcome of the print. But anyone in the graphic arts, printing, or photographic business knows this, as does any painter…whether the sort that paints landscapes and portraits, or the walls in the family room. There are all shades and tones of black and white, and they often really do matter.

Gail said...

HEY GRIZZ-

We received a few inches of fresh snow too - it is so white and lovely. I took some pictures of Gracey-Blue in the snow - I posted them in my last post, and, in fact, I mention you in my piece, as well.

And I appreciated your lesson in developing pictures - fascinating.

Enjoy your renewed white blanket of snow.

Love you
Gail
peace.....

Wanda said...

Oh No! I think I might be getting tired of the snow and coming down with Spring Fever, even though the fresh white snow is pretty and I love winter...I'm starting to think Spring.

This has been the first time ever for Starlings at our feeders. One appeared about 3 weeks ago and brought 2 friends the next day, so far, it's just the three of them.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Hey, that pup is just the cutest! I bet she's so much fun.

Glad to see you're enjoying the snow, new and old, and feeling good. I trust your mom and sister are doing good, too. Take care of yourself—and have fun with that pup!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Wanda…

C'mon, now—you have to hang tough. No spring fever yet! You live in Ohio, remember? Get spring fever after spring actually arrives…and it still snows.

I have maybe 20 starlings. A band of ruffians and bandits. But did you ever see any bird glare more than the starling in the pix? That sucker looks mean.

Bernie said...

Grizz I think "Myladylove" has made you even more mellow than you usually are and I also see a more gentle and softer male as you go about your day enjoying the birds, the river and today the snow. I am so glad you are so happy, we all benefit from it. Truly love visiting the river dear friend.......:-) Hugs

Anna said...

I say the same, hooray for fresh snow! We got plenty here too, and keeps melting and going, lol. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I absolutely love the image. Anna :)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

Mellow? Me? Egads! Worse…you could be right.

Like Ferdinand the Bull, I've always followed my own trail of blissful joy—my basic personality being one of laid-back merriment. I believe life should be fun and worthwhile, and that the two aren't mutually exclusive. As a man, I've never had any problem being softer, gentler, and more emotional, just as I've always tried to live with courage, honor, and compassion.

Love and marriage doubtless redoubled these values by opening my heart even more. And if that somehow shows in my writing, no one could be more pleased.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Anna…

Yup, we're having a melt day here. And the week ahead, so far as the weather gurus can guess, looks like daytimes temps will be on or above freezing—so the gradual melt will probably continue.

Of course it may snow the following week. And that's okay by me.

I like this starling shot a lot…in fact, it may be one of my favorite images on the year. Glad you liked it, too.

Kay said...

Thank you for a glimpse of winter from a winterless place! (I love our weather but sometimes miss four distinct seasons.)Your bird pictures are exquisite and inspiring to me since I'm trying to learn how to capture my yard birds in photos. I'll return to your blog often for great examples!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Kay…

First off—welcome to the riverbank. Glad to have you stop by for a visit and even happier you liked what you found. Please know you're always welcome!

Hey, I just took a quick look at your blog, and I'm honored to be considered in such good company photographically. Your bird shots are wonderful. And such striking birds, too!

Many of the shots on this blog are photos of my "yard birds," taken along the stretch of a small southwestern-Ohio river near my cottage. My winter list, if I'm lucky before spring makes its official debut, might hit 50 species; your list, I noticed, doubles that number. But we certainly have seasons here, so you'll see snow and spring ephemerals, and autumn leaves. No sidewinders, tarantulas (thank God!), or scorpions, however.

Again, I'm delighted you dropped by and hope you visit—and comment—often.