Two Horses Standing in Snow

There is a marvelous landscpe photographer on Flickr who plans his shots months in advance. He studies the scene, then determines exactly where he wants the sun to be when he shoots and the precise location for his tripod. Depending on what he wants, he may not return for the actual shoot for a long, long time.

I am not of the same school. I confess I am of a completely different, less arduous, more care free, school of photography: “serendipity on the fly” (SPF).

A SPF shooter drives aimlessly about looking for something, anything, worth photographing. While he will exit his car to get the shot if absolutely necessary, he prefers to shoot in comfort, through a reasonably clean window of his heated or air conditioned car, thus saving his energy for more arduous pursuits such as drinking and ping pong. If the weather is exceptional mild he may roll down the driver’s side window, bravely exposing himself to the  caprices of nature in pursuit of  that “just right” photo.

One winter day in 2007, not too long after a decent snowfall, I found myself in Wear’s Valley, a lovely part of east Tennessee between Townsend and Pigeon Forge. As I drove slowly down the curving two lane road still partially covered in snow and ice into the valley, I spied several red and black horses running and playing in a shadowed field blanketed with still fresh snow. The tablueax was adjacent to the right of the road I was on and bounded on the far side by a narrow, unlined road or driveway.

I pulled onto the unlined street, pulled my car as close to the fence as I safely could and began to shoot. This was one of those occasions when even an SPF photographer was compelled to exit the car. Ignoring the devastating consequences the wet snow might have on my every day shoes, I tranped through the six feet of shallow snow to the white fence bordering the field. Ten minutes later, my only SD card alarmingly full, I trod back to my car and resumed my travel.

The shot above is by far the best of the dozens and dozens of photos I took before retreating to the warmth of my car.

Here’s another photo taken at the same time and place:

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