A look back at the 2021 snowmaggedon

Story and photos by Linda Henderson

February is always the hardest month for me to come up with a subject for my Traveling the 501 stories. February is a transitional month. It is the month between winter and the upcoming spring.

The Springfield-Des Arc Bridge at Lake Beaverfork

February can be a boring month to photograph. I love dramatic light with lots of highlights, but most years, February’s light is gray with little contrast. But not 2021. Last February, Arkansas got to experience an unusually heavy snowstorm, aka Snowmageddon 2021.

If you have lived in Central Arkansas for any length of time, you know the occurrence of significant amounts of snow is an extremely rare event. On the rare occasion that we do receive snow, it usually occurs late at night and the snow immediately starts to melt as soon as the sun rises. Typically, by noon the only thing left is a messy frozen sludge left on the grass and bushes. That was not the case last year. An arctic blast barreled through Central Arkansas. The temperature plunged. Ice and snow blanketed the 501 area. Unlike most years, the snow did not melt immediately. The delayed snow melt allowed me to get out and capture the beautiful scenery and the impressive light of Snowmageddon 2021.

So, if we have a Snowmageddon 2022 this year, here are a few tips for taking snow pictures with either your phone’s camera or a regular camera.

Cameras require contrast to auto focus. Snow is smooth and white, so the camera has trouble focusing on a snow scene. Choose something with texture or an area between dark and light and place your focus there.

Capture your pictures early. One reason to start early is fresh snow is clean and free of footprints. Snow and ice will melt fast. Melting snow is not pretty; it is just messy and lumpy.

Act fast because the early morning’s warm light reflecting off the snow is beautiful. If you wait until later in the day, the light will be magnified and glaring by the sun being high in the sky.

Light changes fast on a snow day. The light will change when the sun goes behind the clouds, and the scene will look blustery and fiery. Then when the sun comes out, the scene will change to crisp and fresh.

Snowy winter landscapes and backyards can be both dramatic and beautiful. Do not let the weather stop you. Safety is important, and no picture is worth harm or injury. Always check for road conditions before taking off to Arkansas’ backroads. Arkansas winter storms do sometimes have unfortunate side effects. Since our winter weather is mild most years, we very seldom need our roads cleared by heavy equipment, so most counties are not equipped with snow plows. Occasionally our roads remain icy after a snowfall and that can contribute to hazardous conditions.

So, layer up in warm clothing and enjoy the few days of winter weather we get in the 501 area, as I did last February.

Linda Henderson
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