(TMU) - I wonder if Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, who took the first photograph in 1826 from an upstairs window of the Niépce's estate in the Burgundy region of France, could ever have imagined that in the future billions of people would be carrying a camera in their hands every day. That first image is a moment in history frozen in time, never to be repeated, as all photographs essentially are.
Colorado landscape photographer Eric Gross seeks out the unique and often unseen wonders in nature on his travels in North America and the world. In February, without having to travel to the other end of the world, Gross happened to capture the ultimate moment frozen in time, almost on his doorstep, at Dream Lake in Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park.
Gross decided to explore a more isolated area of the lake when he arrived, hoping to find an exceptional view.
"While much of the lake was simply bumpy, one small section near the shore actually had what looked like frozen waves with sharp edges, hard curves, and steep sides. I couldn't explain what I was seeing, so while trying to imagine how ‘frozen waves' could occur, I started shooting. And shooting, and shooting," Gross said.
It was a case of learning on the go, and he soon found a technique that gave him the unique perspective he was looking for and fired his excitement for more. Not surprisingly, after his amazing shoot in February, he was back at the lake in March for more, after which his photos of the frozen lake started trending and making headlines soon after he posted them.
According to Gross, the weather was by far the most difficult part of his photoshoot at the lake. He explained:
"After that first bluebird February day gave me an image I loved, I knew I had to go back and try again with more planning. I tried to go for a sunset shoot the following week, but this location, being at 9,905 feet in elevation, battered me with over 40mph snow coming directly at me down the valley, even though it was not snowing at the trailhead at 9,400 feet," he continued: "I hiked the next morning, where again, it was sunny at the trailhead, but after the 1 mile trip to the lake, it was far too windy with nearly whiteout conditions to take any photographs. On my fourth and fifth trips, I was able to actually use my camera."
Most nature photographers seem to have unbelievable patience and can do attitude when it comes to getting that perfect shot and thankfully Gross has experience in hiking and climbing in all sorts of weather conditions. And on this trip he also learned some lessons:
"What I learned from this experience is that for most locations, there is simply no way to plan a foreground for an image. It requires going to the site and walking around, possibly for hours, to find something interesting enough to take up half the image. Even on the carved ice, I have dozens of images from different pockets that aren't nearly as compelling as the best ones, which showed that moving just a few inches can have an enormous impact on the image's foreground."
Gross has this to say of the future:
"As some hype built around these images and the lake itself, it became apparent that an interesting foreground, combined with a beautiful landscape background, is my ultimate prize. As CoViD-19 has shuttered some areas and effectively locked me out of some opportunities before winter ends, my plan now is to put my boots to the ground a lot more often, looking for the most interesting foregrounds, instead of focusing more on dramatic mountain peaks."
With that in mind and being homebound for the time being, Gross has started making a list of past images taken from across North America which he hopes to retake, using his newly discovered artistic eye and perspective for foreground.