Friday, January 22, 2010

Aspiring Photographer

Perry White [thanks for the correction, Sue] told Jimmy Olson, "A photographer always has his camera. A photographer eats with his camera. He sleeps with his camera."

I have been brushing up on my photography skills. For some, this might mean taking a class or maybe reading up about exposure, apperture, or shutter speed. Not me. I am mainly just working on the same thing as Jimmy Olson -- namely, having my camera with me when a photo opportunity presents itself.

Like today, for example. Alison, Oscar, and I went on another backcountry ski. All of a sudden we were in a cave of snow-covered tree-branches -- crystals glistening and occasional beams of sunlight coming through. It was other-worldly; Alison called it a tomb of blue and white (to keep the comic motif going, it was very much like Superman's Fortress of Solitude). I reached into my pack for the camera. But it wasn't there. That's right, I remembered, the camera battery had been dead that morning, so I left it home on the charger.

Yesterday, however, I was ready. One moment I was looking at a cloud (left), when, suddenly, the mountain emerged. And I was there with the camera to capture it. See, not so bad! In fact, I am such the photographer now, check out my next move. I had the perfect "couple's shot" -- Alison and me in front of the mountain! I could just hold the camera in front of us and snap the perfect shot. Beautiful!

Well, I guess there's no need to pat me on the back prematurely. The following are my attempts at self-portraits with a backdrop of Camel's Hump.

I guess I'll keep practicing.

Friday, January 15, 2010

No Thanks

Listen to the latest "safety initiative” Vermont police are promoting. This winter, police are issuing a ticket and fine of $214 to every driver who goes off the road in bad weather.

Does this sound like a proactive approach? On top of all the stressful factors involved in bad weather driving – poor visibility, changing road conditions, snow flying from plows and other cars, other drivers – now we can also worry about not being able to afford to hit a patch of black ice or drive through an unexpected pile of slush.

Do you think every car that goes off the road ended up there because of excessive speeds? Or that every driver stuck in a snowbank got there because of negligence? Obviously not. Poop happens – particularly on the roads in bad weather.

I admit that there are people out there who drive ridiculously in snowy conditions. When they crash, don’t worry: the cost of the tow truck, their insurance deductible, and the mental trauma of the whole experience will more than teach them to slow down. A cop coming over and slapping a $214 fine on them (aka kicking them while they’re down) isn’t going to help. Neither is the fine they give me when that bad driver hits me – who was going slowly and carefully – and causes me to go off the road.

Is it because the police can’t afford flares? Listen, bill me for the flares if I crash. Otherwise, I don’t need the sort of “help” you are offering if I do wind up in a snowbank.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Life in Black and White

I used to think that, when my parents and grandparents were kids, there were no colors. All of the TV footage of those times is in black-and-white. And all of the photographs of them as kids are black-and-white. It was therefore no big stretch to assume that the world was devoid of color in those days.

For a short time today, color left my world. On a backcountry ski trip this afternoon, I found myself surrounded by only two colors: white and grey. The above photo is a color shot. See what I mean? Snow was falling and the sky was grey. The ground was covered by a soft fluffy white blanket. And the trees appeared in various shades of grey. The only occasional shots of color I got were -- every now and then when my skis appeared above the fluff -- the small bright green graphics of my boards and an occasional flash of yellow when Oscar darted from tree to tree.

It felt like an old-time ski movie. No people, no colors, just the snow, the mountain, my dog, and me. There wasn't even much for sound, so it was like a silent movie. All I could hear was Oscar's bell, which was muted by snow. Everything was quiet, peaceful, and cold -- although I was sweating underneath on the way up. At the top, the sun attempted to show itself, but the ski remained white. I quickly removed my skins, put on my shell, sipped some water, and got ready for the descent.

Going down was fabulous. I skied the same area yesterday, and it was the best run of my season. Today was the same except that there were 3 or 4 inches of new snow, and it was still falling. So, despite the old-time format, the skiing was phenomenal -- just like in the old ski movies.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year Reflections

When you supervise in the ski school at Stowe, you don't have much time at the end of the year for the holidays and for new year reflections. This year was just as busy as any year, with one difference: because of the way Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year's Day fell in relation to my days off, I didn't have to work any of those days. You think blue moons are rare? I wonder when we'll see that again!

Anyway, I did participate in some holiday traditions: boot league at the Bahrenburgs (see pic) and Christmas dinner at Poor Farm with my grandmother in attendance. And I got to go on a beautiful backcountry ski tour (at an undisclosed location -- except to tell you it was east of the Mississippi and west of England) with Ali, Oscar, Karen, and Grayson on New Year's Day. Everytime I get into the woods of Vermont, I am struck at how beautiful winter is.

Happy 2010!