A Vortex of Inspiration in the Depths of Winter

Whooper Swan Hokkaido Lake Mashuko Japan-5

There are those who wake up each morning bathed in a glorious sunrise…steam rising off the hot springs outside their door as they gaze across the sky, admiring a rising sun and the beauty of nature.  A beauty whose only rival is the one they have laying across their chest as they rest in bed.

If this is you, then this post will likely not be of interest…

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Instead, as the holiday season winds down and the bleak side of winter seeps in, this post is for those who feel the dark, deep cold of the season beginning to weigh on their spirit.

This post is for the person jogging down a mountain in twilight, hoping to make it to the car before the sky really opens up with snow and freezing rain…

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While luck is on their side, as they make it to the car right before the sky opens, it is a short-lived moment of elation as they find out that once again “someone” left the dome light on in the car prior to the hike… and the only thing colder than the car battery is their sinking heart looking forward to a cold night before help arrives.

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These are the moments that tend to define the depths of winter.  Early winter has the excitement of a change of seasons: the feeling of the first crisp chill in the air, the beauty of the first snowfall and perhaps a dark-haired girl in a sweater with eyes twinkling as she takes a sip of her coffee.

Yuanfen- Us Dancing

But then through the rush of the holiday season, reality begins to set in: the first snowfall is accompanied with closed roads and slush.  The crisp chill in the air is soon accompanied by a weekend cold, and the girl with the twinkling eyes…well, she keeps things fresh enough to make the winter blues worthwhile.

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To most, the dead of winter is defined by crappy weather and long periods of time stuck indoors.  And while we remain trapped inside our hellish cells of purgatory, just outside our doors the Whooper Swans are living it up.  Frolicking and almost taunting us as they swim, soar and romance as we lay tucked up inside our homes.

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Winter brings a strange mix.

While the winter landscape is incredible, the weather does not make it easy to jump out of bed and run around outside and enjoy the great scenes of sunshine and smiles.   Instead, we are faced with the joyless scene of the grey & blues of winter.

However, when inspiration strikes and we brave the wind and cold, we can shed the blues and get a spark of summer in the dead of winter.

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This spark of summer in the dead of winter is what we need to search for as February looms ahead.  As after the initial thrill of a new winter season wears off, we are tested.  The abundance of patience in which we start the season with vanishes quickly during the holiday season, leaving us with a sense of dread.

As we slowly drive each other crazy with our pacing and longing for warm, sunny days…ahead is the worst month of the year.

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We can either hide our heads and suffer, succumbing to the cold and curse it in our misery, or simply shake off the chills and celebrate winter.  A cup of Irish coffee, compatible friends and a great view from a frosted window looking out into the bleak, frozen glory of wintertime is a good start.

Somewhere there will be an opportunity to get out and enjoy what winter can offer.  With Chinese New Year just ahead and signaling a close to the holiday season, I look forward to venturing out and making a watery splash to the great Year of the Horse.

Cheers to all!

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NOTE: These photos were taken in Hokkaido, Japan between Lake Mashuko and Rausu.  As luck would have it, we had every type of weather making for a great shooting environment.  One of the best days was getting out to shoot in blizzard conditions as we were stranded with road closures (below photo is of John Shaw, one of the world’s best wildlife photographers).

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162 Comments on “A Vortex of Inspiration in the Depths of Winter

  1. Oh, I do love experiencing winter – in photos. Probably explains why we live in Florida. 🙂 Your images are exceptional and they almost tempt me, almost. Lovely post Randall.

    • Yes, I do love the winter season…but knowing that I have a place warm to go (HK for me, FL for you) makes it a bit better when visiting such winter-wonderlands.

    • This winter is one for the books, I keep thinking Spring is around the corner… Thanks Anne.

      • We have 15 inches of snow on the ground with piles higher than cars. I can’t remember a winter like this for years and years!

  2. Reblogged this on closetoeighty and commented:
    On 2/11/2014 my friend DawnSeeker (journalofdawn.wordpress.com) gave me a link to http://dalocollis.com and I found a new friend who gives very much to everybody. Thank you, Randall Collins.

    • The trip to Hokkaido in the winter blew me away, it was so peaceful/beautiful/perfect for photography and for just getting away. Thank you!

  3. Just looking at some of your posts and this one caught my eye. What immediately hit me is how you capture pictures with feeling in them. Not just great photos but photos that for me evoke emotions – happy, free, moody, funny, and more. A great talent you have.

    • Thank you Jude, that is a wonderful compliment, I think photos that can evoke emotions are special ~ especially if a simple shot. Cheers!

  4. Beautiful pictures of winter! I love the perspective and the rendering choice of the second picture!

    • Thank you (that is one of my favorite shots…solitary strength in the mist of a blizzard).

  5. I’m filled with emotion as I view this series. Thank you so much for sharing. Hokkaido (as you already know) has some amazing wildlife, and your photos really emphasize all the wonderful aspects. Hope you’ll visit Japan again 🙂

    • Thank you Takami, my visit to Hokkaido was amazing…and I hope to visit there in the summer as well (to see if differently than in winter). A magical place.

  6. as the swans drink, spirits among the trees look on…one human the other I felt was an owl?
    do they have owls in Japan? my son was stationed there for four years, he loved it….he never mentioned owls
    your images are amazing, its more like being there without the cold…all beautiful,
    the second and last one speak of such quiet beauty to me
    I was told once living in the harshest of Winters define a person that is searching for himself …they have only their echoes
    to listen to, and when Spring arrives they have learned all their darkest secrets, if they like what they found, there will be
    peace-filled Winters, if they are indifferent, each Winter will be harsh
    The waters the swans dance on are the most amazing blues….
    Thank you …
    )0(

    • Thank you, it is wonderful to hear your thoughts and insights into winter. With all the wildlife around, never a dull moment ~ yet so peaceful.

  7. Oh my goodness, I’ve missed so much of your work! This is, just, well, made me feel cool in the midst of 95 plus degrees. The landscape monotones are luxurious. I’ll have to go back and review your stuff 🙂 I love winter!

    • Great point, revisiting this post can fool the mind into thinking a crisp, cold breeze of winter is sweeping over us! Thank you and wish you a cool week.

  8. We are still months away from winter, but when looking at your gorgeous photos I start to long for the winter season again. But it takes a lot of work and stamina to capture photographs like these.

    • There is something nice about the cold ‘isolation’ that winter brings. In the final weeks of summer now, and my favorite season of autumn coming up ~ but I do not dread winter. I guess it is a time to exhale 🙂

  9. Mesmerizing winter imaginary… A whole white universe in front of me ⭐
    The swans are perfect, playful and full of natural joy, despite the cold weather.
    Excellent post Dalo! Best wishes, Aquileana 😀

    • Thank you Aquileana, a good post to get ready for the winter that once again lies ahead of us 🙂

  10. Stunning capture of the swans! As you say, they do seem to bring an air of fun to the chilly surroundings, especially the one calling and strutting off to adventure. Are the swans a steady fixture in Hokkaido throughout the seasons?

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