The West Side Highway has fascinated me ever since I saw it in this very illegal lap around Manhattan years ago, but the road was mostly empty on this Sunday morning for a different kind of race: a running road race.
Clear, cold winter air and a road stretching north from the Connecticut-Massachusetts border makes a lovely entrance to the Berkshires. A photogenic dusting of snow doesn’t hurt, either.
This is an example of perfect timing—as much as I like to take winter pictures, quadcopter drones like neither snow nor extremely low temperatures. Early in the season, however, there are lucky days like this one where snow is immediately followed by clear skies and above-freezing temperatures that give me a tiny window in which to capture the winter.
The northeastern US has been gripped by severe and hardened cold. Consider, for a moment, how much colder 20 ºF feels than 60 ºF. Imagine that difference projected past its original low point, out the other side to -20 ºF. After past winter temperatures like these, I can attest that the return to “normal” winter really does feel 40 ºF warmer. The rivers and lakes are freezing. The snow is a dry powder, dozens of degrees below its melting point. A warm home above the frozen waters sounds pretty inviting.
Away from the village centers, the North Country is frozen at an odd point in development. The original farms of early settlers haven’t been completely removed, but not much development has continued past that point. Trailers were installed by the sides of hot-mix roads and everything stopped there. I’m fascinated to think what this area must have been like during the late 1940s—population returning as the nation demobilized, and those people changing things in the North Country. Things don’t seem to change as much now.
The gradient from dense, urban (and suburban) areas to rural and natural settings is one of my favorite photographic subjects—and the subject of most of my favorite photographs. In this particular aerial shot from the in-between area over Pennsylvania, the sun has mostly set, leaving shadows and a few orange reflections in the overly ordered geometry of subdivisions. Down the winding highway, beyond the hills, in the less-dense and more agrarian land, the sun still casts a warm glow.
There’s fundamental power in the laminated wood structure of this through-arch bridge (which I’ve photographed before), and I love the way it’s enhanced by the imposing pickup truck and the dramatic sky.