As a photographer, I love living in Eastern South Dakota. In the summer. Winters, yeah, not so much. I mean come on – NEGATIVE 30 degrees? And that’s the actual temperature. When it’s that cold, wind chill doesn’t even matter. It’s just bone-chilling, snot-freezing cold. Makes me wonder what crazy Sioux Falls city founder said, “Hey guys, let’s build a city here.”
Cold aside, winter landscapes in South Dakota are beautiful. There are days when frost covers everything. Houses, streets, the dog and of course the trees.
On one of those days, I stumbled (literally) across this scene a few miles from my home on the East Side of Sioux Falls in Southeastern South Dakota.
I parked my SUV on the side of a frozen gravel road and began the 100 yard walk through frosty frozenness to get to the other side of the creek for a good angle. I have to be honest here, the “creek” was actually a drainage ditch, but for the purposes of a photography blog, creek sounds a whole lot more adventurous.
Stumbling Onto The Scene
Camera bag and tripod in fingerless gloved hand, I trudged through the tall prairie grass. Another few steps and my snow boot gets tangled in a web of ice-covered cattails and I fall on my butt. Fortunately, I am able to hold my camera and tripod up over my head as I fall slowly down. When your next paycheck relies heavily on your gear, you learn to prioritize. Camera gear one. Head and brain two. Body and limbs three.
I look around to see if anyone but me witnessed my little mishap and sure enough here comes a white Chevy pickup truck purposely tooling down the deserted country road right towards my parked vehicle. I’m able to pull myself up off the ground just in time to see the driver stop, roll down his window and yell, “whatcha doing”?
Me: “Taking photos.”
Driver: “Of a drainage ditch?”
He has me there.
Me pointing in the direction of some distant subject: “Ummm, no the frost. On the trees.”
Driver: “Ok, have a good day. Don’t hurt yourself.”
When I recover from my embarrassment and the weird conversation, I make my way to the other side of the ditch and work my way closer to the water. I find what I think is a nice composition using the leading lines of the narrow “creek” and dig my tripod into the frozen grass clumps. I lean forward and give my lens one last look to make sure it’s clean. Satisfied, I dial in my camera settings and make several exposures and play with a few angles before the sun sets.
The temperature in South Dakota really does get as low as -30 degrees. here’s a link for proof.