Buurrrrr… it was cold outside when I started the first day of shooting my “Winter Snow” film a few years back in the southwestern part of Colorado, just outside a little town called Ridgway. They filmed the John Wayne classic film “True Grit” all around this area and some of the locations are in my film.
A few years back, my wife and I had purchased some land just north of Ralph Lauren’s Double RL Ranch with a beautiful view of the amazing Sneffels Mt. range. (Ok, that’s two name drops, one more to come…) While staying with friends near our property the first snow arrived with a grey and white blanket of drifting wind and flaky snow covering the pinion and juniper trees.
Shooting in the snow is an interesting experience to say the least. Constantly concerned about snow flakes turning to water on the lens while the camera is moving in my Natural 3D Motion process requires constant protection of the camera. As I would often park my equipment setup under or near a tree to get a foreground to create depth for the shot, a clump of snow would sometimes fall either on me or nicely in front of the camera. A few times, I’d get a snowball plop on my head, but no harm no foul.
I had gloves with removable finger covers to avoid getting frost bite and the usual ski and head gear to stay warm as I would traverse the terrain of foot deep snow drifts looking for shot after shot before the snowfall would end. Early morning snows are often quite grey so the exposure for white snow and cloudy sky is critical, and if you do not have a dark background, actually visually seeing the snow fall is quit difficult. White sky and white snow just look white… you get the picture.
Over the next few days I continued to shoot around the Uncompahgre Valley, out to the Telluride area and back to the ice walls of the town of Ouray. This is familiar territory for me as I also shot much of my “Fall Colors Colorado” film in this area.
Of all the films I’ve shot, one scene in “Winter Snow” which has the ice climbing canyons just south of Ouray is the only scene that has any humans in the film. Ouray is the ice climbing capital of the U.S. and the world’s first ice climbing park located in the Umcompahgre Gorge where water is supplied via a sprinkler system set up by the community. In this one scene, you can see two climbers, one ascending and one repelling in the long canyon. I think it is a beautiful visual.
A few weeks later I headed off to shoot in Utah, while getting in a bit of skiing with my plain air painter friend Susie Anderson and her husband Gary who have a place in Dear Valley. The canyons south of Salt Lake City like Little Cottonwood in the Wasatch National Forest would present small streams amid the blankets of white snow.
Then I headed down to shoot the majestic peaks of Mount Timpanogos near the Sundance Mountain Resort where Robert Redford stared in one of my favorite films “Jeremiah Johnson.” The ski area had a great many restrictions for access but I was pleased to get a feel of the place with the white aspens contrasted by the snow covered peaks.
The past few years, snow fall has been quite limited in the western states as a result of climate change, bringing drought and lack of snowfall. This year, with El Nino on the horizon, I’m sure we will get good coverage but will need many more for years to come to make up for the lack of water we have used up so extensively.
All I can say is, I hope you enjoy this peaceful, calming film many times over, especially if you are missing the snow outside this winter. As for me, it was a great experience, and thank goodness for hot chocolate!!!