ice covered trees winter sunset photography

Luminous - Blue Ridge Winter Sunset

This winter landscape image was captured during a rare moment of incredible natural light on a very cold day at Jump Off Rock in Hendersonville NC the day after a large snow storm passed through the area in January of 2011. When we first arrived at the location I noticed that all of the trees there were covered in this amazing accumulation of hoarfrost, which is a type of elaborate ice crystals that can form on plants and tree branches only when there are conditions of heavy fog mixed with freezing temperatures. The resulting crystals of ice that form in these conditions look like intricate towers of snowflakes stacked one atop another until they are over an inch tall, each one as unique as a fingerprint. I wasn't sure how to best capture this phenomenon at first as the aforementioned fog was quite heavy and there was very little light to work with.

As we were waiting to see what conditions might unfold, a small clearing in the fog moved by us right before sundown and let the golden sunlight shine through and backlight the tree against the dark fog creating this great background of warm light fading into the cold steel blue of the fog surrounding us. While these wonderful lighting conditions lasted less than a minute, it was long enough to capture this image that I felt really showcased the warm sunlight against the cool background colors providing a unique blend of complimentary warm and cool tones. For just that one moment it seemed like fire and ice could coexist beautifully in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina.

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