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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Season Of Solitude

Marc Adamus’ winter landscape images combine light, form and color to transport the viewer into a place and a state of emotion

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Snow and ice blanket Crater Lake in Oregon. Nature photographer Marc Adamus is most at home in a winter wonderland. Based out of Oregon, he often spends months traversing any number of remote locations in pursuit of stunning winter landscapes and scenics.

Winter starts early for Marc Adamus. In 2011, he found snow in late September while leading a workshop in Glacier National Park, but his winter really kicked in when he landed in a remote Arctic range a few days into October. He'll take winter wherever, whenever he can find it.

"Without a doubt, winter is definitely my favorite time to shoot," says Adamus. "My whole interest in the outdoors and wilderness photography, it comes from a love of just being out there in the extreme weather. I love the cold and the wind and the snow. I've sought that out my entire life. It really puts me in a position where I can feel the power of nature.

Captured in Fremont-Winema National Forest, Oregon, vegetation contrasts nicely with a fresh snow covering in "Winter Grace." About the image he titles "Cold and Alone," Adamus notes, "Taken from a remote wilderness location days from a road or trail in Jasper, Alberta, this image depicts a small, curving line atop a nearly frozen stream running into an ice-covered lake. High mountain peaks and the setting sun complement the scene in the distance."
"I was just as attracted to snow at three years old as I am now," Adamus adds. "It's a lifelong fascination for me, completely out of my control. I'm totally enthralled by it. I think it's the most magical thing, and always have."

Adamus seeks out that magic as early and often as possible, particularly enjoying early winter opportunities when snow is fresh and backcountry access is easy. There's a difference, though, between early snow and real winter.

"In winter, new snow is critically important for a lot of things," he explains. "It covers every last bit of landscape, and that's what makes those exposures easy to handle and makes everything come together. When you have just patchy snow, like summer snow, little patches of it that have been hanging around in the landscape for a long time, those patches of snow stick out like a sore thumb on your photographs. They're very difficult to control, exposure-wise. So if it's new snow, it's winter as far as I'm concerned. If it has been sitting around a long time collecting dirt and pine needles, that's definitely a different type of situation.

"One of the things about early winter I absolutely love, and I always take advantage of," Adamus continues, "is the first few storms of the season before the snow really starts to accumulate. You can get the best of both worlds: You can have all the same accessibility, or very close to the same accessibility, as you do in the summer. You can still follow a trail if there's six inches or a foot of snow, or the road may be open if there's only a few inches of snow. You can get into a lot of the same places that you can in the summer before the snow has really piled up. And you can get way out there into some of these mountainous landscapes. Take Glacier, for example—the first storm of the season hit us in September, and we got about six inches of snow on the peaks. I can hike up into those peaks, and it would be just like shooting a landscape in midwinter. Everything is completely covered in beautiful new white snow, and I can follow the same trail and the same road that I use in the summer to get there."

One of Adamus' favorite photographs is an early winter image made in Banff National Park. The dawn sky is on fire, reflected in the water and ice of the foreground, juxtaposed with bits of blue snow mirroring the predawn sky. It's a stunning, color-filled photograph.

"My winter portfolio really reads like a spread of my favorite images," Adamus says. "Most of my favorite stuff has come from winter. That sunrise in Banff, with the Vermillion Lakes with ice in the foreground, I don't believe that I've ever seen a better show of light in my life. And I'm out there 300 days a year. I've never seen anything better than that in nature."


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