To make the perfect photo, you need more skills than just being able to handle a camera. You need a lot of patience to start with, you need good background information on when and where to shoot, and one of the most important things; you need to know what the weather will be like.
Depending on what you like and want, you have high seasons and low seasons.
You can guess my high season, I suppose. It definitely isn’t the blue sky’s summer! I need (thunder) storms and winter snow! So now, in winter, I always have an eye on the weather forecasts. Mostly what lays ahead, and when the perfect weather comes along, minute to minute analysing is what I do. It’s intense, it’s time consuming, but that is what it takes.
So when last week snow was announced for this week, I was ready : I blocked the whole week, and checked the weather over and over again. Every couple of hours the forecast changed; snow on Monday in Antwerp became snow in Wednesday in Brussel and a couple of days later there was no sight of any snow. It was maddening and stressful. I had a plan B, which was to fly to Berlin where it was going to snow for a full week, but than that snow forecast disappeared too.
But I learned never to give up. I follow Nicolas from Noodweer Benelux his live streams, and he kept hope high. Tuesday afternoon I booked an airbnb, packed my bags and drove to the Brussels, just in time for some final planning and the final live stream… In Brussels I would be 1 hour closer to whatever destination the snow would bring me. And Nicolas made it easy for me : the latest weather models predicted that the capital of Europe would get the full load, and in case the snow area would change his course slightly (no more than 30km might have been possible) I could still either take the car south or north. I was confident. Things were looking bright.
And they were bright. It started at the exact moment as was forecasted, 11 am, and in no time the city was covered in a tiny layer of white gold. Time to venture out.
After my trip to the Baikal Lake (-40C) I am prepared for just about any weather condition. Not that I would need any of those clothes here in Belgium. A nice warm and waterproof coat and pants will do, snow boots with crampons (spikes), my camera in a waterproof cover, hat, gloves and I was set to go. The Airbnb is so centrally located that I could easily come back to change lens or camera, no need to carry a heavy load.
I walked around the city all day, non stop. It was heavenly. It was divine.
Beautiful, the sound and especially the feeling of snow cracking under my feet, the sound of people laughing everywhere. Kids, teenager and adults playing in the snow. Making snowballs of the thick layer that had gathered on cars, shaking trees full of snow. I duck a couple of times, some guys asked me politely whether I fancied a snowball in my face which I kindly declined. We laughed. A couple, the husband filming himself and his wife, dancing behind him, laughing and singing in Arabic. A dad teaching his little girl to glide down a hill on a plastic bag… all this and the city covered in white.
The snow grew thicker, I had to shoot in the blind : I had forgotten my contacts and my glasses were full of snow, it became impossible to keep them clean.
Less and less cars on the road, and more and more cars in trouble. You only realise how hilly Brussels is when you are afraid you will not get up the next hill. The city was slippery in every single way. Even with the spikes under my feet I made a full body contact with the snow, but I didn’t care, just about nothing could ruin this perfect day!
Only when darkness came in I walked back to the apartment. Only then I felt that I was dead tired, hungry and thirsty -I had forgotten to eat and drink. Time to get out of my several layers of warm clothes and upload the photos. That is definitely what heaven must be like!
2023 wasn’t a good photographic year for me, but 2024 has started off extremely well! I am back on track and all set to go!