Winter at the Dells

I am sometimes a lazy photographer, but there are times when I’m glad I put in the effort to explore something at just the right time. Even if that is in hindsight.

Winters can be a wonderful time to be outside, but they can also be challenging in their unpredictability. Back in mid-December there was snow on the ground, but not a lot. Just enough to be pretty, but still easy to move around in. Who knew that by the beginning of March all that would change. We got around 40 inches of snow in February alone! So I’m doubly glad I visited The Dells of the Eau Claire early!

In the realm of awe

The Dells is a popular county park in Marathon. Well, in the summer it’s popular – during this shoot I only saw one person. You can get right down in the water to swim and beat what little heat we get. In winter you can get just as close, but have to use just as much caution. With snow and ice covering the rock it can be difficult to judge where it’s safe to step. During the warm months, especially early spring, the river itself can sweep people under with its powerful current.

The Dells of the Eau Claire

Lucky for me no one was around (shocking, right? lol) and the river was still running at full roar. I could take my time and experience the beauty with only otters for company. Not that I saw any, just paw prints in the snow.

Can you feel the eyes upon you?

This time, the field work wasn’t the only challenge. When I got the images into the computer, I was a bit flummoxed by how the camera handled white balance. Everything looked too blue. I know snow can look that way in shadows on a sunny day, but as you can see it was overcast. So I had to tinker with the settings a little to produce what looks more natural to me and is close to what I was looking at.

Up against it

The water is quite tannic (brown), and the ice held some blue and green, but not the snow. The exposed rocks have a lot of lichens on them and I wanted those colors to come through. What worked best to manage all those was to use the saturation sliders in the HSL panel, but with a luminance mask so that only the color was removed in the highlights.

The fusion of opposites

I also played with the color correction function in Luminar, again confining it to the snow. Masks are new to me and I’ve never really understood how they can give me something I can’t get in my old version of Lightroom, but now I’m beginning to understand and I’m glad to have it when this kind of thing happens. I am getting more flexible in how I process and present images, but most of the time I want things to look real.

Heavy up

For the most part I’m pleased with the photos as a set – I think they work well together and the processing is reasonably consistent.

Otter eye view

By the time this posts I hope that spring is making an appearance. Making some plans for waterfalls season in the U.P. Also, I’ll be back from New Orleans where I have booked a sunrise photo excursion into the swamp/bayou. I’ll also be hitting some caves in Missouri and who knows what else I’ll find to put in front of the camera!

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