In late October, we had a hard frost in Southeastern Massachusetts. Living in the heart of cranberry country, I knew that cranberry growers who had not yet harvested their crops would be scrambling to freeze their berries. They would turn on their sprinkler systems overnight to coat the berries in ice. According to the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association, this actually creates heat, protecting the cranberries from damaging frost.
Armed with this knowledge, I played a hunch and went to my favorite bog. I like it, because the owners do not take care of it. This bog is perhaps the worst cared for of all the working bogs in my region. This bog has many kinds of weeds which add interest to my images. Rather than making images of pristine red cranberries floating on top of a bog, I try to show a beautiful flower or tall golden grasses growing among the cranberries.
Perhaps my favorite weeds are sapling maple trees. They grow approximately eighteen inches tall and their leaves turn red, orange or yellow in the fall. The turning maple leaves look fantastic when they are surrounded by hundreds of floating crimson cranberries.
When I arrived at the bog, the scene was even more beautiful than I had imagined. The sprinklers had covered the entire bog in ice. The tall grasses and maple trees looked like giant, colorful crystals. I selected my long 200-500mm lens to isolate each weed and began to photograph.
Perhaps the most challenging part of the morning was dodging the sprinklers. At one point I even timed a sprinkler to be able to safely photograph a particularly colorful maple leaf. I had approximately 30 seconds to make an image before I would get soaked. Considering the air temperature was 33 degrees, I made sure to work quickly!
As the morning sun rose higher, the scene became more beautiful. Four other people stopped and commented on the lovely scene. Even a police officer paused during his patrol to take in the breathtaking view. Soon, the sun warmed the air and the ice began to melt bringing a close to a beautiful morning.
This Month’s Tip: Most people assume that it is easy to make a great photograph. The reality is that it takes a lot of planning, practice and patience. While it may seem that I simply drove right up to a great scene, I had years of knowledge and scouting working in my favor. Nothing can replace experience and persistence, so get out there and photograph!
Greg Lessard is a professional photographer. You may view his latest portfolio, “The Glory of Massachusetts” at the Bridgewater Public Library throughout the month of December.