Winter Light Celebration

As winter settles in, the sun is slipping lower and lower across the sky. During the winter solstice here in Winnipeg, Manitoba the sun barely clears the treetops. Such low-angled rays of light are magical, and to celebrate the season I’ve gathered some winter light photography snapshots from recent years…

I find that winter light is particularly well-suited to capturing surreal window reflections, allowing for layers of light and colour to blend with abstracted patterns. When illuminated from a low angle, snow becomes a textural wonderland of sparkling deep drifts, painted with fading light and blue shadows.

Trees and winter light

Filtering the last rays of golden hour, or catching a gilded glow in their bare branches against blue skies. Such stark winter forms are welcome whether framing sunsets or arching above city streets, as they lend shape and contrast to the winter light all day long.

Trees lend structure to the frosty winter air, and when they are illuminated just-so, they often compliment the bones of the landscape or urban environment, laid bare by the season.

Winter light and interior spaces

Casting soft, surreal shadows in unexpected places, light filtered through old glass windows is particularly irresistible to try and capture with the camera. Something as simple as an unintentional coffee cup still life might appear on a wall for a moment, painted in shadow and quick to disappear as the light shifts.

Often the swaying of winter branches will make these patches of light dance and shift, like light through moving water as seen at the bottom of a pool.

Varied views of the same cityscape

Downtown Winnipeg features a mix of older buildings and newer highrises. As their facades catch and reflect the winter light throughout the day, the mood and feel of the cityscape changes too. With the early sunset, lights in windows twinkle while the dusky sky still holds onto the last of the sunlight. The moon rises over the city with its glow softened by the icy atmosphere.

The golden glow of the winter light is especially beautiful contrasted with the blue shadows and snow of the cityscape, and I couldn’t resist the reflection of a sunlit building in the sideview mirror on a winter’s afternoon.

Windows become magical glittering surfaces…

Frosted with ice crystals or illuminated by gently shifting shadows. Layers of light are caught and transformed inside and out, and even though the daylight hours are short, there seems to be no end to the beauty that winter can conjure with a bit of moisture or shifting light on glass surfaces.

The two images at the bottom left of these wintery window scenes are actually shots of frost accumulation on the inside of an old set of windows. The two images in the bottom right are of the same perspective through fluted glass at different times of day.

Of course a winter landscape is made even more beautiful by the light…

Rippling sheets of icy clouds and endless shades of blue. Sunsets last longer, and the blushing glow of their colours is reflected in the snow and ice. Often the sky looks like mother-of-pearl, iridescent and luminous.

I love how the winter landscape is often a study in subtlety, with fence-lines and horizons blurred by blowing snow, and the sky a soft gradient veiled in lacy clouds. When the sunsets are colourful, it is always in shades made more vivid by the coolness of the surrounding scene.

Little details of domestic life are illuminated in beautiful light and shadow, turning the long winter months of staying mostly indoors into magical journeys through familiar spaces.

Something as simple as a tissue or glass of water can be transformed by the winter light. Of course the dog loves the winter sunlight too, and can often be found basking in the glow of those fleeting, low-angled rays of warmth.

All of the photos in this post are from various phone cameras. I find that winter light often inspires snapshots as it is such a fleeting and beautiful part of every day. To see new snapshots as I share them, just head over to @photoapk on Instagram and follow me there!

Sunset Water Abstracts | Vancouver, BC

Pink sunset light mixes with dusky blue sky, reflected by softly rippling water where False Creek meets English Bay on a calm, quiet summer evening in Vancouver.

Abstract textural water; mixing shades of pink and blue as the calm ocean reflects a colourful sunset in Vancouver, British Columbia

I captured plenty of general postcard-sunset-scenes, with mountains in the distance or a silhouetted tree to compliment the colours, but I have been particularly pleased with these abstracted photos of the beautiful light skipping across small glassy waves.

Abstract textural water; mixing shades of pink and blue as the calm ocean reflects a colourful sunset in Vancouver, British Columbia

This series of blue, pink, and coral sunset water scenes has been added to my ‘Liquid Light’ collection, which highlights photos in which I’ve explored the movement, texture, and abstracted forms of light mixing with water in interesting ways.

Abstract textural water; mixing shades of pink and blue as the calm ocean reflects a colourful sunset in Vancouver, British Columbia

Often these dappled, fluid scenes remind me of impressionist paintings, and thanks to a particularly vivid sunset on an evening walk at the aptly named Sunset Beach Park, very little editing was necessary to highlight the contrasting and complimentary colours.

Abstract textural water; mixing shades of pink and blue as the calm ocean reflects a colourful sunset in Vancouver, British Columbia

As the light faded from the sky, the colours on the water slipped toward more muted, pastel shades. The form of the waves and sense of movement became more apparent as shadows deepened, and in editing I found that a wider, panoramic choice of cropping brought forward the subtle pattern and abstracted texture of the water’s surface.

Wider views of this sunset and other Vancouver, British Columbia scenes can be found in my archives, prints and licensing available.

Summer Prairie Skies

The sky is bigger on the prairie, and the sunsets some of the most gorgeous I have ever seen; constantly shifting weather, swirling clouds, and a golden hour that lasts forever…

Living Skies of Saskatchewan, sunset
A stunning summer sunset fills the sky above the open Saskatchewan landscape

As I spend more time travelling across Saskatchewan and Manitoba my library of spectacularly surreal sunsets will continue to grow – find them all in my Land of the Living Skies gallery – prints and licensing available.

Sunset on the Manitoba Prairie

It was a long journey, to arrive in this beautiful, pastoral scene. This image is from last summer, shot from the window of our car as my husband and I sped along country highways to a cozy cottage in the Manitoba forest.

Having spent over 10 years living a nearly idyllic life on the coast of California, the Northern prairies were never a place I’d thought I might move to. Since capturing this fleeting, golden moment, I have been granted Permanent Residency in Canada, and I am starting a new chapter in a new landscape.

Sunset pastoral, Manitoba
A pastoral scene of grazing cattle at sunset in the countryside of Manitoba, Canada

Summer on the prairie offers some of the most spectacular skies I have ever seen, and on this warm day we’d watched thunderstorms and billowing clouds scattered along the horizon in every direction. As we turned North, the warm light from the setting sun seemed to skip across the pastureland, and the scene was reflected along the glassy water of a lake. This is the day that brought much closer the sense that I would soon be arriving in a new home, and I found myself enchanted by the peacefulness of the landscape, contrasted with the constantly changing sky above and all illuminated by the incredibly long golden hour that low, flat horizons allow.

Find prints of this scene and more Manitoba landscapes at www.apkphotography.com

Santa Cruz, surfing Steamer Lane at sunset

In the stillness between waves, dedicated surfers wait in the rise and fall of a winter swell.  This image was captured shortly after a spectacular sunset had painted the pastel skies along the coast of Santa Cruz, California.

Santa Cruz, sunset scenes

These quiet moments are as much a part of surf culture as catching the biggest or most exciting waves, and a peaceful ocean scene like this reminds me of how we are all drawn to contemplate the sea.

Find this photograph and others like it in my Ocean & Coastal Prints archives.

New horizons

Around the time one calendar year changes to the next, it is easy to become absorbed in reflecting on the recent past. In this case, 2011 flew by with alarming speed, and it is hard to believe that 2012 has already arrived. Rather than dwell on what has been, however, I am very excited by what is next. Many changes afoot for this blog and my photography – from new digital darkroom tricks to some incredible print collections and fine art offerings.

Last light, Big Sur

These two images, both shot on the same beach in Big Sur, are from a recent exploration of longer-exposure photography. Living on the coast affords me easy access to some spectacular coastlines awash in sunset colours and misty waves, and I hope to bring you more of these peaceful, scenic images in the coming months.

Big Sur, sunset

Memorial Day meditation

Lincoln Memorial and reflecting pool, sunset

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. ~ Joseph Campbell

Today is traditionally a day for remembrance and for gathering with friends and family to celebrate the bountiful pleasures of the season.

I find it difficult to limit my Memorial Day meditations to just the fallen soldiers of countless wars. I think of their families and communities too. In recent years, the trauma and tragedy of war has played itself out as soldiers return home, burdened with endless nightmares and deeply challenging emotional scars – as the suicide rate climbs among the men and women who so selflessly put their lives on the line for their country, I find it shameful that we are not doing more to help them return to lives of health, vitality and peace. Even the most personal of wars can not be won alone.

I am also thinking of the leaders, large and small, who have dedicated their lives to the service of the nation. Having a visionary sense of one’s role and abilities as a leader, acting on those ideas, and seeing often difficult change through to an end is a remarkable task that most of us would not be brave enough to attempt, given the opportunity. It takes a particular kind of person to step into so great a role of responsibility.

We live in a world that is not likely to ever be free from conflict and war. Today is a day to consider just how lucky we are to have heroes in our midst everyday. From foot soldiers to leaders of nations, these are the people whose lives have been given up to something larger than themselves, and we might each aspire to living lives as selfless and dignified as those we honor today.

just another day in paradise

just another day in paradise, originally uploaded by A.p.K.

Living in Monterey is pretty much like living inside a postcard. Every sunset has the potential to make the evening magical, as the lights of the squid-fishing boats come to life along a stormy horizon, and a few hardy souls brave the cold wind and waves to surf that last swell of the day.

Find more from my Monterey photography collection here.

weather, light

northern nevada, originally uploaded by A.p.K.

Two of my favorite photographic ingredients – some fleeting condition like fast-moving clouds and rain, and the slanting rays of the sun. Even two images shot within seconds of each other can be remarkably different in tone and balance when captured under these conditions.

This was a lucky shot – on a working road-trip through Nevada where we stopped in Battle Mountain for the night as a large storm began to shower the region with rain and crackling lightning. Having walked one of the few main roads in town from our hotel to a cafe and back, I was glad to have carried my point-and-shoot camera as we turned to the mountains and caught a glimpse of the light and weather combined in a dramatic, shifting composition of landscape and man-made elements.