Dec 19 2010

There’s Snow in Them Thar Hills

Living in Los Angeles saves me from shoveling snow and scraping ice off my car windshield as was required in my native Detroit, but when it comes to making a Holiday card I embrace the beauty of snow and head for the hills. In Southern California this means keeping an eye out for the magical mix of a rain front with temperature levels that will produce snow at the higher elevations. In flatter regions of the state the forecast may simply be about the chance of rain, but for the mountain areas it also includes a snow level prediction – the elevation where the rain transforms into snow. Getting these photos requires heading to a beautiful location with the right elevation, but success is not assured.

20101120 stk 0839 There’s Snow in Them Thar Hills

Sequoia trees provided a contrast of red bark against white snow

A November weather front created an opportunity to shoot this year’s card at a snow level in the 6,000-foot range. This meant looking on the map and finding the right spot. A contender was Sequoia National Park – it was close, in the target altitude and provided a great opportunity to shoot the red bark of sequoia trees against freshly delivered white snow. The timing required the perfect Goldilocks formula of not too hot and not too cold. A frigid temperature closes the road into the park by generating too much snow and higher mercury levels would only give me wet trees to shoot. An accurate weather forecast and perfect timing this year rewarded me with a fresh blanket of snow and I made it in and out of the park in one try.

20081218 stk 2972 There’s Snow in Them Thar Hills

The sun retuned to Joshua Tree on the second day

I was less fortunate with my Joshua Tree photo from last year which required two attempts to reach the park. I was 20 cars away from getting into the 4,000-foot high desert last year before the Highway Patrol closed the road. These excursions require preparing for an overnight stay in the area, and after a good night’s sleep I was rewarded with open roads and bright sunshine the next day. (You can read more on this story and see a video version of the “Living Joshua Tree” in last year’s blog post.) Besides having the opportunity to take great photos, the other advantage of visiting parks on the edge of snowstorms is experiencing the sites without a crowd. The solitude of the normally packed Grants Grove in Sequoia was broken only by a herd of deer and I had Joshua Tree to myself untill the snow plow came through to let out trapped campers. During this slow Holiday season I’ll continue to look to the sky – not for Santa and his reindeer – but for a weather report that has the right mix of rain and temperature that would provide an opportunity to head for the hills to create next year’s card. For snow photos in the lower elevations of New York’s Central Park, view the saffron Gates series by Christo and Jeanne-Claude against fresh snow.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

On Twitter:

@HarmelPhoto

@MarkHarmel

Now on Facebook

No responses yet