As a lifelong New Yorker, no winter is complete without at least one snow fall. For me, what I enjoy most about the snow is the initial hour or so when the flakes are particularly pronounced against the naked grass and trees, as well as the dull glow from the bright white sky. I try to capture these moments on film but the moment is usually so fleeting that I oftentimes don’t have the opportunity to take pictures.
This past week, we experienced a rather abrupt snow fall, which started as quickly as it ended. From about 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., large snow flakes emerged from the sky and covered the grass, streets and trees in my suburban neighborhood. Completely consumed by my morning routine, which is dominated by the arduous task of getting my kids ready for school, I barely had a moment to enjoy the wintry scene, let alone take pictures of it. By the time there was a void in my morning schedule, it was 8:20 a.m. and the snow had stopped. Yet, what remained was a beautiful, thin, white blanket on the ground, which was preserved by the blistering cold and cloudy, yet bright, sky. I decided to seize the moment and take a few shots.
My instinct led me to my Canonet QL17 GIII, which was already preloaded with Kodak Portra 400. I will always consider my QL17 to be my first “real” 35 mm camera, even though I inherited (stole) my parents’ Minolta Freedom Zoom 90 point and shoot well before ever acquiring the QL17. While I do not claim to be an expert in film photography, I have handled many 35 mm cameras in my life and the QL17 is by far one of my favorites. The layout of the controls is very simple and intuitive and easy for even a beginner to navigate. I find the lens to be incredibly sharp, yet it creates a soft glow to my subjects, like an oil painting. Given that I do not have a battery for my QL17 to control the built-in light meter, I typically resort to the Sunny 16 rule or use the “Light Meter” app on my iPhone to assist me in finding the proper exposure. The shutter is very quiet, which, as many have said, makes it ideal for street photography. Finally, the camera is quite exquisite in appearance and is a pleasure to show off in public (although my Olympus OM1 is the queen of the “35 mm beauty pageant”, in my opinion).
At about 8:30 a.m., I decided to explore a local marine dock, which is always filled with colorful boats, canoes, kayaks and trucks. On this particular day, the trucks and kayaks caught my eye based on their bright, yet old, paint jobs, which exuded some unique textures and effects. The prominent grain inherent in the Portra 400 complimented these paint colors and created a, somewhat, cinematic vibe to the images. Additionally, the walkway leading from parking lot to the dock, painted a beautiful red, contrasted wonderfully with the white snow, grey sky and dark blue water.
Next, I traveled to a nearby pond, which is adjacent to a local country club and affluent residential neighborhood. The pond is beautiful regardless of the season and comfortably sits in front of a large field, which on this day had a fresh coat of snow resting on top of it. This, along with the subtle ripples in the pond and the lightly salted pine trees, resulted in a wintry scene not even Monet could conjure, a scene that benefited immensely from the wonderful grain of the Kodak Portra 400.
Ultimately, my short outing that morning was a highlight to my week and resulted in some beautiful shots that I will surely revisit in the near future.
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