“God gave us our memories so that we might have roses in December.” – J. M. Barrie

“All the leaves are brown
and the sky is grey
I’ve been for a walk
on a winter’s day…”

California Dreamin’John and Michelle Phillips

Even in sunny California when you’re caught in the cold, gray grip of Ol’ Man Winter the hope of sunshine can sometimes seem like a far off dream. True, it’s not as bad as say Bemidji, Minn., but when we can go days, sometimes weeks without seeing the sun that we’re so famous for, it can drive you stir crazy.

Winter is the time of dormancy. Most plants and flowers shut down. They wither and lose color as they wait for the spring so they can bloom and grow anew. Winter’s cold, gray, drizzly weather tends to deter most of us from picture taking. People usually stay in when it’s like this, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t photos to be made.

In springtime the rose garden at Victory Park in Stockton is awash in color. Roses of every imaginable shade bloom, and the garden is full of life and visual energy. In winter the tone is more somber and the hues are more subdued, but it can be beautiful nonetheless. Overcast skies help to contribute to that mood. The dull, flat lighting may preclude overall scenics, but getting in close and shooting details can reward you with some great shots. And, although most of the blossoms may be gone, the leaves of the plants themselves can be a source of beauty.

Waiting for the warmth of the sun to take pictures may be fruitful and hold some physical and psychological benefits, but with a little diligence one can find that looking for pictures on a chilly, damp day can hold its own photographic rewards. Winter’s misty fog can leave water drops that cling to the leaves and bead up like tiny jewels. A lens with macro (close-up) capabilities will help, but many cameras and lenses can get you in pretty close.

The decreased light forces photographers to use a wider lens openings which translates to less depth of field. That means you’ll have to be more precise with your focusing, but with a little perseverance, it will make your subjects on stand out from the background even more.

Move around so that you can get the best angle to get the drops to catch the light and pop out. Pictures may not leap out at you as on a bright, sunny day, but with a little patience — and keeping an open eye — you can find something worthwhile.

So while the vibrancy of spring may be a distant memory or a only longed-for hope this time of year, beauty still can be found in the cold and wet days of winter.

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