Clear is really clear this time of year.
When the air temperature drops and the cold fronts descend, the intensity of the light ratchets up. On really cold days, the moisture is driven from the air. This allows light to travel with less or no dispersion through the sky to our eye, or more exactly, to our lenses.
With crisper light, certain compositions we might normally overlook present themselves. Specifically, profiles, backlit objects and things in silhouette really snap and stand out. Winter brings a distinct sharpness that encourages a little more adventuresome composition.
This week's image is a pretty ordinary scene of little note, seen almost anywhere. In full daylight, it would be hardly noticed let alone considered photo worthy. Some might look at my photo above, ignore it, and move on anyway. Everyone sees differently.
But, to my eye, what surprised me about this scene was how strongly it presented itself. It was almost shouting, “Look at me! Look at me; don't you even think about walking past this place without taking a photograph!" For me at least, I think this is due to what I suggest about winter light. It was as if a focused spotlight backlit the buildings and the tree, adding a touch of yellow gel and some transitional blues. Voila!
Another element that helps these scenes be noticed is the time of day. The late day angle of the setting, and already set sun, adds drama to almost any composition. Try this little trick sometime. Enjoy the sunset but try some photographs just after the sun goes down. We often put our cameras and eyes away too early. What happens after the sun goes below the horizon is astonishing. You might be surprised and pleased.