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 often 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 subtley, 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!

Forest fog | Big Sur, California


Mysterious, dark, quiet; a grove of trees in the coastal mountains of Big Sur, full of mist and morning light. I’d arrived at the campsite after dark, chasing the sunset down the winding curves of Highway 1 and setting-up camp as stars appeared overhead. During the night, fog gathered along cliffs and settled into valleys, and I woke to find the forest shrouded in soft layers of light.

Camping on the California coast is often a damp, chilly affair, and this day was no exception. The warmth of a small fire, the coziness of a sleeping bag and a book, the sound of the nearby ocean all helped to pass the time. 

Trees become ghostly figures as evening fog creeps into the coastal woods of Big Sur

As the sun settled again to the west, the early evening light filtered into the deeper, shadowy corners of the forest grove and campground, and I was able to capture this layered scene full of contrasts and soft tonality. The branches of the trees lend a sense of enclosed space; a cathedral of organic shapes and windows of light. Of all of my Big Sur experiences this moment  remains one of my favourites, full of the restorative, meditative mood I found present in that particular time and place.

This elegant, peaceful scene is available as a fine art print in my Black & White Prints collection. To see more Big Sur Photography, visit my Big Sur, California collection.

Transitional Light | Manitoba, Canada

Spring and autumn are rich with photographic inspiration, contrasted in blooming flowers and fresh growth or colourful falling leaves. However, my favourite aspect of these two transitional seasons is the same for both; a shift in the light, imbued with a sense of fleeting, golden time. It never fails to take my breath away, especially as summer slips into fall, and as the sun passes across the sky each day, a little lower in autumn or a little higher in spring, it casts a mood unique to these phases of declination.

These particular photos were captured in the early spring, just before sunset as the warm sunlight filtered through the cool shadows of a forest still waking from winter. I was drawn to the contrast between the bluish tone of the tree trunks and bright bursts of yellow-green leaves caught in the evening glow. Even though this is a springtime scene, it struck an autumnal, contemplative note as I stood in the fading light, trying to capture a sense of the transitional light and layers shifting before my eyes.

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These images are available as fine art prints in my Riding Mountain, Manitoba gallery – as some of the images are unconventionally cropped, please contact me directly for custom sizing options.

Winter Solstice

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Abstract reflection of lantern light against bare tree branches on a winter evening

“This is the solstice, the still point,

of the sun, its cusp and midnight,

the year’s threshold

and unlocking, where the past

lets go of and becomes the future;

the place of caught breath…”

– Margaret Atwood, Eating Fire: Selected Poetry 1965-1995

 

Winter frost, Saskatchewan

This is my first true Canadian winter experience, as I visit the prairie city of Regina for several months. I have experienced snowy, icy winters before, but only in small doses. Here in Saskatchewan, I have watched the autumn leaves fall and blow from the trees, and enjoyed a first round of snow flurries complete with large, fluffy snowflakes.

Hoar frost and ice rime are a new firsthand experience, and a few nights ago a heavy mist descended crept into the city. I woke to a winter wonderland, every tree coated in ice crystals, the neighborhood transformed by a misty white frost.

As the fog cleared and sunny skies emerged, the contrast of the tree branches against the vivid blue above seemed surprisingly colorful given the mostly white palette of the scene. I’m looking forward to more opportunities to photograph this winter weather phenomenon. To see the full set of these Winter Frost photos, please visit the Regina, Saskatchewan gallery at www.apkphotography.com

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Frost clings to the branches of a tree, Regina Saskatchewan

Autumnal Gold

Seasons of transition always prompt me to pick up my camera more often; the slanting, evocative light of the sun low in the sky, the luminous colors of fresh spring growth or the brilliant golden, scarlet, orange palette of fall have always provided abundant inspiration. However, having spent most of my life in the mild climate of coastal California, this year’s visit to the much more northerly environment of Saskatchewan has brought me to an even deeper appreciation of the drama and fleeting beauty of autumn.

On a recent sunny weekend, I visited Wascana Centre in the heart of Regina, Saskatchewan. A series of colder days had signalled a distinct shift from summer to fall, and signs of the seasonal change had begun to appear around the city.

The man-made lake of Wascana Centre is surrounded by lovely parks, and the trees had begun to turn golden yellow, their leaves made even more bold against bright blue skies.

This seasonal color is fleeting, as I discovered last year when I first visited the park. On that day, the weather was cool and misty, and many of the leaves had already fallen from the trees, leaving only a hint of the brilliant autumnal display I was fortunate to see this year.

With a severe windstorm stripping the leaves from the trees earlier this week, the fall foliage display in Saskatchewan is quickly drawing to a close, with many bare branches above and deep piles of brown leaves filling the streets and yards of the neighborhoods below. I look forward to watching the last bit of this transitional season slip into winter, and will be eagerly anticipating the arrival of spring, when the cycle begins anew.

To see the full set of images gathered during Autumn in Regina, Saskatchewan, please visit the gallery at apkphotography.com

A few selected images featured in this post will be added to my Open Edition Prints collection, with announcements of specific print releases shared on my APK Photography Facebook page

Small Yellow Songbird

As the days gradually become shorter and the season shifts to cooler temperatures, autumn is turning the leaves a lovely golden color before they fall. I am reminded of a little yellow songbird perched high in the branches of a tree on a cold winter morning. It calmly watched the sunrise, warming it’s wings as sunlight spread across a mountainous Southern California desert landscape beneath a bright blue sky.

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A small yellow songbird perches in the California desert sunshine, framed by the branches and yellow leaves of a tree against blue sky

This is an image from my archives, and I am adding it as a new release to a collection of square prints that are sized and priced for the casual art collector. I often provide custom, larger-format fine art prints to private collectors, but wish to share my images with a wider audience. This sweet little songbird is the first image selected for a set of square prints that start at $30 USD, with gallery canvas wrap and standout mounting options available. I will be adding new images to my Open Edition Square Series print collection in the months to come, so please check back for announcements or subscribe to this blog for updates.

To purchase ‘Small Yellow Songbird’ please visit apkphotography.com