WORKOUT SESSION: HOT & COLD

December 01, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

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Extreme Season is underway, around these parts at least. Cold is colder and hot, when it can be found, feels like an electric blanket. The town we live in is subject to "inversions" during the winter, trapping cold air in the valleys while the warmer air rides the ridges of the surrounding mountains. The temperature has been hovering between 10 and 20 for a week now, and it's not even officially winter yet. It's the kind of cold than penetrates right through wool, cotton, and down.
 
Inside, the thermostat is cranked up to a comfortable 72 degrees. It's normally set at 68 but we're treating ourselves to the extra degrees to combat the outdoor icebox we've been working in every night from 5:30 to 9:00 pm. Those 4 degrees are hot, relatively speaking, and we appreciate every toasty one. Once tucked in for the night we dream of beaches, deserts, saunas.
 
So how does one photograph HOT and COLD? For the short end of the Fahrenheit stick we could just layer up and get out there deeper into the cold and shoot. Extra batteries and hand warmers aren't just nice accessories to have along; they're required. When batteries die it's time to come back to hearth and home, chop some virtual kindling, and get the fireplace roaring. The glowing red end of the spectrum is easier, or maybe not. Photographing a steaming cup of hot chocolate sounds easy, but somehow it always disappears before the camera comes out. 
 
Holiday lights are going up everywhere and their hot LED colors against the cold black sky present interesting challenges. Exposure meters lie like politicians in such fringe conditions and you're left on your own to figure out shutter speeds and apertures that usually end up at one extreme or another. 
 
Bonfires, mittens, red noses, funny furry hats, icicles. Hot chocolate, snowballs, slick roads, chili peppers.
 
Color theory makes a big deal about hot and cold colors. Red is hot, aggressive, loud, and trumps the scene with braggadocio and swagger. Blue is cold, reclusive, sulks in the background and coolly plots the future takedown of loudmouth red. That's the common wisdom, anyway. There's nothing to say that red cannot be cool or blue hot.
 
For instance, how many remember when political maps depicting red states and blue states were reversed? One tv journalist, during the 2000 presidential campaign, decides that red should be conservative and blue liberal, puts up the map on the telly, and singlehandedly throws all of American politics into utter chaos forever. That's right, people! The true cause of our national turmoil is not Bush or Obama. It's Tim Russert and his disregard of proper color theory! The blue-horned devil in disguise.
 
Your job is to put HOT AND COLD to work, baking and freezing ideas and shapes into compelling photographs. Nothing lukewarm for us!
 
HOT & COLD will run for two weeks, from Dec 2 through Dec 15. Happy shooting!

"Leap into the boundless and make it your home!" - Chuang-Tzu
 
© 2015 Don Johnson

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