Winter’s icy clutch has taken a firm grasp of the ‘Burgh with one hand while sprinkling a seemingly endless supply of snow and ice on us with the other. To the dismay of most, it doesn’t appear to be letting go anytime soon. Reactions to this seemingly most hated of seasons vary from simple grumblings about potholes, which Pittsburgh is infamous for, to the more drastic proclamation of moving to Florida and never coming back - until the spring of course! With the advent of social media, though, the trendy reaction seems to be the obligatory Facebook posts by daring souls braving the roads alerting other drivers that if they “don’t know how to drive in the snow, JUST STAY HOME!!” And many folks do just that. They stay indoors where it’s warm, avoiding the elements as best they can. Who could blame them, right?
Well I suppose I could. Perhaps “blame” is too strong a word but I just fear folks are missing out on a wonderful opportunity to see Pittsburgh in a completely different light. Literally. As a photographer, good light is everything to me. Without it, even the most pleasing of subjects, say the world renowned skyline of Pittsburgh for instance, can make a dull photograph. And which season, in my opinion of course, has the best light? You guessed it – winter! During winter the sun does not stray as far from the horizon as it does in summer months allowing for more even, pleasing light that illuminates the buildings of the skyline in ways you can only imagine. Sunrises and sunsets are more dramatic with wispy clouds blazoned with pinks and reds while dusk and dawn very often have a subtle tint of purple. Just think of those colors painted in the sky behind the city. Wow!
Lucky for you, there’s a bonus. If you venture down towards the North Shore this time of year, there’s a great chance you’ll see plenty more than vivid colors and an amazing skyline. It has been so frigid this first month of winter (yes, only one down and two more to go) that the Allegheny River has carried chunks of ice downstream which have gathered along the River Walk. If you inspect the ice closely you will see a vast array of patterns - patterns that most people would walk right by, but I’m a photographer so I tend to see things differently and seek these details out. And these patterns are ever-changing. As more ice accumulates, the ice stacks upon itself allowing miniature icebergs to “grow” out of the water as you see above. Once the ice melts it begins to shift causing cracks, some of which span the entire width of the river branching out as though they were trees. Additionally, direct sunlight on the ice can melt holes into the sheet and if you stare long enough, you’d swear a penguin is going to pop out of the hole for air. But sadly I’ve seen no such penguin. No seals or polar bears either. Just geese…lots and lots of geese!
So next time there is snow in the forecast or a bit of a nip in the air, don’t pack it in and sip wine in front of the fireplace. Bundle up, warm up the car, and hit the North Shore. There is an endless array of beauty to be seen, or maybe even photographed, in Pittsburgh during these frosty months. And if I’ve not done a good enough job of convincing you to sacrifice warmth for beauty, then you can grab that glass of wine, cozy up to that fire, and take a look at winter through my eyes because I can guarantee you I will be out there photographing it!
Have a look at all of my Pittsburgh work at: http://www.jpdirollphotography.com
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Post courtesy of JP Diroll Photography
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