Places

A snowstorm in early autumn

We were driving on the Felbertauern Strasse, a scenic alpine road in Austria known for its beautiful views and its tunnels, when the weather turned foggy and chilly. We stopped for a bit at a place called Rastplatz Elisabethsee to have a look around, and we were treated to these wonderful views of the mountains above, the Osttirol Alps, where a snowstorm had begun, even though it was still early autumn. The contrast between the greenery being covered by fresh snow and fog was so wonderful to see, and it was a reminder of how quickly the weather can turn at high altitudes. Enjoy the photographs!

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Events

Photos from a recent snowstorm

I know late winter snowfalls are a hassle for most people. I know. Especially after spring seems to have arrived. Having to deal with piles of snow after dealing with it all winter long is not fun for most people.

I am not most people. I love winter. I love snow. I love the cold. And when more cold weather comes, I enjoy it. Like this recent snowstorm. I went outside and took photos in the thick of it. Came back wet, because the snow was melting as it was falling. My camera was thoroughly wet. My lens was wet. Neither of the two are waterproofed. Thank goodness they’re still working.

Remember, it’ll be warm soon enough, and before we know it, it’ll be so disgustingly warm that we’ll be sweating through our clothes and our cars’ ACs won’t be able to handle all the heat. That’s disgusting weather for me. That’s filthy weather for me. It’ll be here soon enough, unfortunately. So I’m going to relish the snowstorms while I still can.

Enjoy the photos!

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We had a beautiful night snowfall recently and even though it was after midnight, Ligia and I went out to walk through the garden. You may know these nights well if you live in a temperate climate. They tend to stick in your memory. Everything is quiet, eerily quiet. Even the sound of your own voice is muffled by the falling snow. If you’re in a town, the ambient light from houses and streetlights reflects off the blanket of white snow and shines right up to the clouds, which are near to the ground, weighed down by the water droplets that will become snow as they fall to the ground. So the whole sky typically shines a tint of yellow from the town lights, and it also reflects that light down onto the snow, lighting everything up even though there’s no moon in sight.

It was that kind of a night when we stepped out. Thick, well-defined snowflakes were slowly making their way down, stopping on branches, building up into impossible mounds on the thinnest of twigs. In the absence of a breeze, everything was frozen as if in awe, admiring the falling snow in concert. We walked through our garden, wading through the powdery white blanket, stopping to breathe the cold, refreshing winter air and to give thanks for the beauty before us.

I hope the photos reflect the atmosphere of that night. They were taken handheld with a 35mm lens at its widest aperture (f1.8) and at at a fairly high ISO (as high as 10000). That means not everything is going to be in focus and there is going to be plenty of grain. But that’s how I typically shoot: handheld, even in low light. I’m more interested in capturing the mood, the moment, than in having everything tack sharp or in setting up a tripod shot.

Events

A winter night

Gallery

Some mornings I wake up early. It’s not often that it happens. I’m a late sleeper, always have been. But when I do wake up at the crack of dawn and it’s snowing outside, I will get out of bed, put on some warm winter clothes, grab my camera and head out for a walk. Today was one of those days. 

As I write this, about three hours after taking the photos, it’s still snowing lightly. This was a good snowfall. We’ve had some other ones this year, of which one in particular sticks in my mind. It happened earlier this week, with snowflakes almost as big as my palm. That was magical — but it didn’t last. With -1 degrees Celsius outside right now, this snowfall looks like it might last longer than a few hours, so that makes it the first good snowfall of this winter. 

As always, I hope you enjoy the photos. These were taken in the historic town center of Medias — known as Mediasch in German and Medgyes in Hungarian — and known to me as my hometown. 

Places

A morning walk through the snow

Gallery
Places

Blue hour and snowfall!

This past Sunday morning, I woke up to a beautiful snowfall and luckily for me, about 10 minutes before the blue hour (which actually lasts less than an hour). I tiptoed down the stairs so I wouldn’t wake up my wife and child, put some clothes and shoes on, and because it was snowing heavily, I took my Canon 7D (my only weather-sealed camera), along with the 10-22mm EF-S lens (which is also weather-sealed). I wanted an ultra-wide perspective to the photos and also the ability to shoot without a tripod at low shutter speeds. An ultra-wide lens lets you do that because of the “reciprocal rule”: as long as the shutter speed matches the focal length, you should get a good photo (provided you have steady hands). A 10-22mm lens would let me use shutter speeds as low as 1/10th of a second, which is just what I did on some of the photos. Enjoy the gallery!

For those of you who love looking at camera gear (I know I do), here is a photo of the camera and lens I used.

Canon EOS 7D

Canon EOS 7D

Canon EF-S 10-22mm f:3.5-4.5 Lens

Canon EF-S 10-22mm f:3.5-4.5 Lens

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Places

A hike through the hills of Moldova

These are photos I’ve taken during a couple of hikes through the hills near the village of Strugari in Moldova, Romania. Here’s a map of the area.

A map of the region around Strugari, Moldova

A map of the region around Strugari, Moldova

It was the middle of March (the 14th and 15th) and spring had just arrived. Most of the grass was dry and leaves hadn’t sprouted yet. As a matter of fact, no buds were even apparent on the branches of the trees in the area. A friendly little mutt that belonged to friends of ours accompanied me on the hikes (you can see him in the photos). A late snowfall introduced an element of adventure to one of the outings. It’s lovely to be in the middle of nowhere and to be suddenly surrounded by myriad falling snowflakes. A magical quiet sets in, sounds are muffled and a feeling of wonder takes over.

Enjoy the photos!

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Video Log

Finally, some snow!

After an unusually warm, humdrum winter in Romania, bereft of snow, we finally had some fairly heavy snowfall these past few days! I drove through a snowstorm the day before yesterday and when I got home, I got to enjoy the beautiful winter weather from inside our house, safe and warm.

I made a short vlog about this which you can watch here or on YouTube. Enjoy!

Raoul

Glad to be back home!

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One of the first things I feel in the morning is my daughter kissing me on the face and whispering “Daddy…”, usually followed by a request for food or cartoons or playtime. She’s our alarm clock, whether we like it or not, though I have to say, no matter how tired I am, waking up to a little angel giving me a kiss and calling me daddy is a pretty good way to start the day.

Yesterday morning, even though I’d worked till 2 am and she was waking me up at 7 am, I got up and took her in my arms and started walking together toward her playroom. I looked casually out the kitchen window and (this happens every year) let out a “Yoo-hoo!” because the first snowfall of the winter had already covered our yard. Sophie did the same — after all, she wants to be like her daddy — and we both giggled as we looked out the windows at the pure, little ice crystals coming down in a hurry.

Still, I needed my sleep, so I got a fire going in her playroom, got her some food and shuffled back to bed. By the time I got up again, the snow was still falling, albeit in less of a hurry, and blustery winter winds had begun to blow. You know the kind, the chill goes right to your bones and makes you shiver no matter how many clothes you have on you.

After breakfast, I had to grab a camera and go out to photograph the snowfall. It had started coming down a little heavier again and this was a chance not to be missed, in spite of the cold weather.

I did just that. The streets were mostly deserted, which is just the way I like it, although the tracks of hurried morning traffic were visible in the snow. It was odd weather. The warmer ground had turned the freshly fallen snow to slush and yet high winds were blowing down, carrying more snow from up above and spreading it everywhere. It was not a good time to walk around with a camera in hand. My fingers began to slowly freeze and become unresponsive. I’d forgotten how this felt. A warm summer will do that to you. My nose and ears seemed to be in a parallel plane where the sensations consisted mostly of prickly pins being shot at them. The cold started creeping up my legs and in spite of the old saying that goes something like “I’m freezing my a** out here…” it wasn’t my derriere that was suffering, it was my kidneys. Weird stuff…

Anyway, I persisted, walked throughout the historic district and photographed what caught my eye. I hope you’ll enjoy these photos. It was a fun and partially frozen experience…

By the way, high wind advisories are still in effect throughout Romania. Meteorologists are saying that some regions are expected to have winds up to 60-70 km/h. Should be interesting!

Places

First snowfall of 2016

Gallery

It’s been snowing today. I woke up to little snowflakes dancing in a light wind in our courtyard. It’s been like that all day. Every time I looked out the window, it put a smile on my face.

There’s something so beautiful about a February snowfall. It’s one of winter’s last few efforts before it gives way to spring. This sort of snow doesn’t ice up the roads. The weather isn’t so cold that it’s unbearable. It’s not like the frosts of early January that put icicles in your marrow should you stay outside too long. This is soft, warm snow that blankets the gardens and the patches of grass, sits every so gingerly on the branches of the trees and nestles inbetween the needles of the evergreens.

It’s like winter’s saying, “It’s been fun this season, I really enjoyed your company. Here’s a parting gift to remember me during the warm seasons.” I love this sort of snow. I love winter. I love a crackling fire in the fireplace, a warm cup of coffee or tea in my hand and the dance of snowflakes outside my window. These sorts of experiences are the high points in our busy lives, and we should enjoy them more.

Well, a blond little girl named Sophie is tugging at my sleeve, I guess it’s time to go.

Thoughts

A February snowfall

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Events

A late winter snowstorm

One thing about winters is they don’t like to leave. Just when you think they’re packing to go back north, they settle back down for at least a few more days. And they’re not shy about it, either. They’ll let loose and bring on a bonafide winter storm.

This particular one happened just about six years ago. The set of pictures you’re about to see were taken in Grosvenor Park and Cabin John Park, MD, and in Tyson’s Corner, McLean, VA.

Things can start out picturesque in the morning…

… and turn into this by evening.

By morning, things are back to picturesque — a beautiful, white winter picturesque.

Sadly, that doesn’t last long. In a day or two, rising temperatures melt it away.

By the way, there are few things that cheer me up better than warm miso soup and veggie sushi after exploring in the snow.

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