This photo taken by NYI Graduate Duane McCargo of Virginia won the NYI Merit Award. We chose it because we believe it is a photo that truly evokes winter. It reminds us of what we see when we make an unplanned stop along a road trip for a flat tire or an accidental skid on the ice. It made us remember Robert Frost’s most famous poem. Do you remember Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening? (Think back to high school!) In the spirit of the winter and the snow that has already started to blanket us, we thought we’d refresh your memory.
Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village, though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow. My little horse must think it queer To stop without a farmhouse near Between the woods and frozen lake The darkest evening of the year. He gives his harness bells a shake To ask if there is some mistake. The only other sound’s the sweep Of easy wind and downy flake. The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep. ñRobert Frost
Now that we have put you in the mood for snow and eggnog, let’s analyze Duane’s photo! What is the subject of this photograph? The subject is a winter scene, a silent snowy night. The subject is winter. Winter means different things to different photographers. It can mean snowmen, icicles, skiing, or in this case a peaceful snowy evening.
How did the photographer focus attention on his subject? Duane focused attention on the snow by taking advantage of the unique lighting situation. The streetlight along the road is a sodium vapor light, as is the light we see off to the left of the frame. This special light is what gives the snow and the trees an eerie greenish hue. The natural pinkish purple hue of the sky contrasts nicely with the light reflecting off of the snow. Judging from the color of the twilight sky, we think this photo was taken around 4:30pm in the afternoon. Duane slowed his shutter speed, between 1/2 second to 2 seconds, to achieve the streaking effect of the passing headlights in the road below. Combine all these elements and you have a very successful thematic winter photo.
Perhaps not as rustic as the scene described by Frost, but relaxing and highly evocative of winter. Is there anything that distracts us from the subject of this photograph? There isn’t anything here that distracts us from the winter evening. Duane did a great job focusing on the scene. We hope this photo will inspire you to don snowshoes or cross-country skis this winter after a snowstorm when the snow is still powdery and fresh and get into the scene. Don’t forget to bring your camera!