00393_s_11agqaxsjg0705It’s mid-February, the worst of the winter photo-doldrums and time seems to have stopped advancing as we wait for the photo opportunities of Spring. What is a photographer to do?

Here’s your To-do list:

1- Go visit your favorite Spring photo locations and scout them for any changes. Has the access changed? Has there been any winter damage? Do you see any signs of early flower growth? This is something you need to do before that perfect day to shoot comes along this Spring only to find that the bridge is out or that the parking lot is closed.

2- If you find that some of your sites have changed now is the time to try to fix any problems. I have been known to clear winter storm branches out of favorite stretches of a cherished stream or remove a limb that fell right in the middle of a perfect patch of flowers. If you do it now your ‘repairs’ will be invisible when you take your photos. If you wait until flower time your handiwork will be obvious.

3- If you can’t fix the problems then now is the time to scout for other nearby locations. Where does that other branch of the stream go? What’s around the corner? Is there another nice patch of forest on the other side of the valley? What’s that meadow like over there? Look for locations that are similar ecologically- the same elevation, slope, orientation to the sun, vegetation cover.

4- This season in particular (due to the strong El Nino) the timing of all natural events will be unusual- some may be much earlier if you live in the northern part of the country and some may be later if you live in the southern part of the country. this means you are going to repeatedly go to your locations to keep tabs on the progress of the season. As an example, maple sugaring started 3 weeks earlier this year compared to last year. If you waited until last year’s date to get some maple sugaring pics the season may well be over.

5-Start fiddling with your camera now especially if it has been months since you last took a serious photo. Again, the last thing you want is a camera malfunction (or brain malfunction) on the one day in Spring you have to take photos. This is especially true if you are going on a photo trip. get the rust off now before you get on location.