SPOTLIGHT
THE VISUAL WARMTH OF THE SUN
Inside the Image
Photography and Text By Douglas Schwartz
All content in this SPOTLIGHT © copyright Douglas Schwartz. All rights reserved.
Thankfully, the air was very still, which was beneficial not only to my comfort but to the natural subjects in the scene as well.
As any nature photographer knows, wind can present problems. Not only can it disturb important objects, it can also cause
unwanted blur in an image requiring a slow shutter speed.

As I made my way through the winter wonderland...which was an emotional and spiritual reward in itself for me...my eyes
kept a constant watch for the possible creative use of the sun shining through the forest. Knowing from experience that
such a composition would benefit greatly if there was another visually strong element within the frame to balance with the
sun, I was pleased when I came upon the double tree on the left. I was also pleased to discover that I was the first to arrive
at this location. I can say that with all certainty because of the lack of any footprints in the pristine snow...be they human,
fox or deer. Because I wasn't sure at that point where I would eventually position my camera, it was important that I take
special precaution not to disturb the untouched snow myself and, in doing so, ruin the potential image.

When I at last arrived at what I considered to be the ideal spot...which was no easy task considering the deep snow...
I attached my camera to my tripod and proceeded to compose the image in my viewfinder. In doing so, I ascertained that
there were four primary subjects...or "stars" as I refer to them...that I wanted to feature. These were, specifically...the sun
shining through the trees, the large double tree, the brownish leaves which were still clinging to some of the branches, and,
of course, the snow itself which would serve as the foundation. The other smaller trees in the background would co-star
in roles as my supporting cast of characters.

After determining the correct exposure and making certain that all the elements in the image were in proper focus,
I released the shutter. Upon doing so, I felt confident that I had achieved my artistic goal and that my determination to deal
with the harsh, winter landscape was well worth the effort.

Many people who have responded in a positive way to this photograph apparently agree, for even though I created it many
years ago, it remains one of my most popular images to this day. Time, after all, has no expiration date on art!
Without the sun...our shining star in the sky...life, as
we know it, would not exist! So powerful is the sun,
in fact, that not only do all the planets in our solar
system revolve around it, but so too have artists
been captivated by it ...beginning with primitive
painters who depicted it on cave walls.

Much more recently, poets such as Walt Whitman
(O Sun of Real Peace), Emily Dickinson (I'll tell you
how the Sun rose) and Edward Thomas (There's
Nothing Like The Sun) expressed their thoughts
about the illuminating subject...as have musical artists
including the Beatles (Here Comes the Sun), Stevie
Wonder (A Place in the Sun) and John Denver
(Sunshine on My Shoulders).

Visual artists have depicted the sun in paintings,
photographs and motion pictures as well...and while
these various works of art have included this subject
throughout all the seasons, it is during the freezing temperatures of the winter months when the sun can
provide a visual feeling of warmth if it is included
within the frame. Such is the case of the photograph
in this SPOTLIGHT.

An image such as this may appear relatively easy to
create, but can actually present several challenges for
a nature photographer...not the least of which is the
frigid weather itself. While I have always preferred to
be cold than swelter in the oppressive heat and
humidity of summer, I must admit that I was freezing
my aperture off when I created this image...in spite of
being properly attired in layers of warm clothing and
wearing gaiters over my boots to keep my feet and
lower legs as warm and dry as possible while hiking
through the knee-deep snow.
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Iron Hill County Park, Newark Delaware