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While autumn will always be my favorite, I also love winter.  I don’t like being cold – or, in the Northwest, wet – but I love the magic of snow.  Ice is mysterious.  Frost is magical.

And they’re all wonderful to photograph.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

This is why I enjoyed myself so much in Yosemite last year, and why I can’t wait for our visit to Bryce/Zion in a few weeks.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Around here, wintertime usually means a lot of wet, and there isn’t really much to shoot (though perhaps I just need to find a way to change that).  But when I can get the dry days, and especially when it’s cold enough to bring out some of the true wonders of winter, then I’m in photography heaven.

Every year, a local elk refuge opens itself up for public feedings.  This provides supplemental food for the elk during the winter, raises awareness of the elk in our area, and provides an opportunity for education about the elk.  In return, the visitors get a unique experience feeding them and an up-close chance for photographs.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I missed it last year, but we were lucky enough to snag a Saturday slot this year.  They understandably fill up remarkably fast, as the experience is attractive to families and photographers alike, and space on the wagons is limited.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I’ve only recently been getting into wildlife photography (and, y’know, I started with something really simple like mammoth grizzlies), but I love the details of the fur, the life behind those eyes.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Now, put such an interesting subject into a frosty field, with just a bit of ice in that fur, and the image becomes majestic.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

There’s a calming silence to this type of photography, and it forces me to relax and take my time with it.  The elk move slowly, and the visible chill freezes the scene – literally and figuratively.  And through the camera, I find myself connected with nature in a new way.  It’s humbling to be a part of it.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I hope to find more experiences like this one.  It really is something else.

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