Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's Gonna Be a Long Winter

(Snapped on 12/10/10)

We got our first dusting of snow a few weeks ago - here in good ole Clarke County, Va. 'Twas a beautiful, albeit bittersweet reminder that winter was indeed approaching - whether I happened to like it or not...

I reckon I musta been totally absorbed in something I was doing on my Mac, cuz by the time I peeled my eyeballs off of the monitor, got up and looked out the window - the ground was already almost entirely covered with the white stuff. I was like, "Woah...wait a sec....where did all of that come from?!" However, once the initial excitement of witnessing the season's first snowfall wore off, I shuffled back to my desk, and resumed zoning out on whatever it was that had been captivating me so...

After a couple more hours vaporized (over what felt more to me like mere minutes) I jumped outta my chair with a start, "What in the world am I doing?! I need to get out there and take PICS.!" I paced around my studio, trying frantically to formulate a plan - what to wear, who to be, where to go...Ahhhhhh! I wasn't prepared for this at all! I had neglected to look beyond my immediate shoots, and consequently I'd whiffed on factoring the inevitable - snowfall - into my wintertime self-portraits.

Nothing was coming to me and the snowstorm was now tapering off, dagblastit! I went to the dress-up pile, and pulled out this and that, and eventually settled on a gown that I'd bought at a yard sale, waaay before I'd even met the man who I would one day marry. I don't recall ever trying the dress on before that day, but fortunately the derned thing did fit.

By the time I got myself all done up, the snow had long since quit falling, the wind had blown most of it off of the trees, and the little bit of sun that peeked out intermittently, had burned away everything except the little bit that still remained in the shade of trees and brush...For expediency's sake - I staged my pics. in just such a spot, right there in my own backyard...

There's really no story accompanying the pics. from this ^ shoot, other than that I kept pretending that I was looking up at a big, threatening ogre - Oh! And I did have to stop in the middle of the shoot and go inside for a bit to thaw my hands out under warm water, which clued me into the fact that winter weather was here to stay for awhile, and that my body's general rejection of the cold was going to force me to become more efficient with my (preferred) outdoor more leisurely 2 hours spent snapping a couple of hundred pics...bah.

(Snapped on 12/16/10)

About a week later, it snowed yet again, and THIS time I reacted more swiftly. The only problem was, my kids were suddenly released from school I had to table my original plan to shoot "on location" and was yet again relegated to my own boring yard - to snap my new batch of snowy self-portraits.

While my children reveled in an unexpected partial day off from school - alternately chillin' in front of the TV and running around the yard - I snuck away to tuck myself into a thicket at the edge of my property, taking pictures until my naked body balked at proceeding, and ultimately vetoed my mind's determination to keep going - in the prohibitively chilly 26 degree temperature...I shot for 12 total minutes, that was literally all that I could stand...

(Snapped on 12/21/10)

While messing around on Facebook one night, I noticed that roughly every third status update made some reference to the lunar eclipse which was to take place - way after my bedtime that night. Maybe if my kids had been with me, I would've made an effort to stay up late enough to witness the momentous occasion, but my kids were with their I didn't.

I did however, take advantage of the brilliant moonlight which bathed my yard in light so fantastic - that it cast shadows off of the trees and other objects below, and caused the spotty remains of our most recent snowfall - to virtually glow.

I had purchased the hideous nightgown, housecoat and velour slippers - with a very different shoot in mind, but for lack of a better alternative - I donned the ensemble and carried a lit candle for the impromptu winter equinox pics., instead. I fired off exactly 5 frames before my camera battery died. It was such a shame too, cuz 2 hours later when the battery was finally fully charged, the effect that the moon had on my yard, was not nearly as impressive as before.

I will say this though, those butt ugly $3 slippers from the thrift store were surprisingly effective at keeping my tootsies dry and warm on my many trips back and forth from camera to pose, whereby affording me a longer 2nd shoot than anticipated!

(Snapped on 12/26/10)

My kids left for a week long vacation with their dad, at around 11 a.m. on Christmas morning. This has been our tradition for all of the years that my ex and I have been apart. And each year, I keep distracted from otherwise certain melancholy wrought from my children's extended absence, by immersing myself in whatever my fixation at that time. This year (obviously) my obsession is self-portraiture and writing about it in my new blog - and so as soon as my ex and the kids had embarked on their annual island getaway, I sat down to my desk and wrote a new blog post which I offered as a holiday gift to my dear readers. 

Having just posted a brand new blog entry, meant that I'd freed myself up to go out and take some new pics. the following day - YIP! Under normal circumstances, I would not have hesitated to get my butt out the door to go shoot at my earliest convenience - but this day, I procrastinated. Not only was it overcast and blustery with flurries, the high temperature somewhere in the mid-20's - but I also had a plan...

The night that I'd gone out and taken those pics. wearing the red Christmas dress by the river, I nearly tripped over a deer carcass while toting my gear back to my car, and I knew right then that I just had to come back and feature those sad remains in some daytime self-portraits. 

I waited 'til late afternoon to head back to that spot where I'd seen the dead deer - the primary purpose of which was to incorporate the light of the lantern in that fleeting moment when the grey day would surrender to night, but can I just tell you something? I didn't even last until dusk...

There's this crazy thing that happens to me whenever a particular shoot really sucks me in, I become practically ravenous...studying each frame (best I can on my camera's tiny screen) making necessary adjustments to camera placement as well as my poses and positioning - determined to milk the situation for all it's worth. And you know what? That's fine...on indoor shoots or in warmer conditions. But on that bitter cold evening as I greedily photographed myself every which way that I could think of, alongside the hauntingly intriguing dead deer, eagerly awaiting the prime light of dusk - for the first time ever - I completely ignored my body. It wasn't until I could no longer set the timer button (which at first I thought was a technical malfunction) that I took a second to assess the situation - and what I realized was that I was suffering temporary loss of fine motor skills…and that was quite honestly kinda scary. I tried to warm my hands over the lantern (which didn't work) and after redirecting my brain to focus on myself and not the photos, I accepted that I'd unwittingly crossed my pain threshold. I hated that quitting seemed to be the only solution, especially since this time - I'd managed to subconsciously defer my low tolerance for the cold so that I could work diligently for the first time in eons.

As my hands slowly thawed out on the car ride home, the pain was so great that I cried. I'm not kidding! I absolutely bawled like a baby. Not only because my hands hurt so badly though, but because the stupid cold weather was crampin' my style...and winter was officially only 4 days in...


  1. You are absolutely amazing.

  2. Okay, now to explain. Sorry for the cryptic entry earlier but I was in a hurry but still had to post something since I was somewhat bowled over by your blog entry.

    Your tenacity, wrong word, umm.. your dedication, yes, thats better, your dedication is amazing. I mean, I know you hate the cold and it sounds like you were on the verge of hypothermia - and I don't mean that as a figure of speech - and yet you still manage to get the shots. Amazing shots as well. I can't pick one out specially as they are all wonderful in their own way. Where DO you get the ideas from?

    Amazing shots, amazing ideas.

  3. All wonderful, and all deserving of many, many, more viewings, as there always seems to be something more to see just a little deeper below the surface.

    You are always a delight, and your photos are a treat that stimulate the mind, the heart, and the senses.

    The blue dress and shoes were perfect.

  4. @Adrain - Yeah, I'm not gonna lie - this cold nonsense is really putting a damper on things...I'm getting less than half the frames I would typically get in the warmer months so...VERY frustrating!

    I get my ideas from all SORTS of things...sometimes an article of clothing, or a particular venue, or a physical challenge will give me inspiration for a shoot. I like how things just sort of tell ME what to do next.

    Thank you for your MANY comments! Sorry I don't respond to them all, but don't think that means that I don't very much appreciate each and every one!

    @G. - Thanks again, George! You're comments are always so uplifting!