For photographer Eric Boutilier-Brown, winter is certainly no time to sit around indoors waiting for the season to simply come to an end.
“I’ve always been fascinated by working with water (and) we live in Nova Scotia which is full of lakes, rivers and streams and the ocean,” says Boutilier-Brown, admitting one of his favourite pastimes is heading outdoors to photograph the province’s many frozen ponds and streams.
“In winter, you get this magic of having two completely different states of water. You have this frozen water, which is literally the ice, and then you have water right next to it, so as a photographer, you can get two very different renditions of the same material in the same image.”
Not only is the Halifax-based photographer a willing outdoorsman when it comes to getting a gorgeous image, he is hoping to inspire others to get into nature and do the same.
As such, Boutilier-Brown is offering a special outdoor photography course called Winter, Water and Ice which aims to give participants the tools to capture great wintertime images, teach people how to deal with the specific challenges of working in sub-zero weather as well as a few techniques and long exposure tricks to make those winter images pop.
“I offer four seasonal seminar/field trip series,” says Boutilier-Brown, whose Winter, Water and Ice seminar will be held on January 10 at ViewPoint Gallery in Bedford — or online if COVID-19 measures restrict in-person gathering at such time.
“I’ve been teaching courses through the pandemic except for during the first lockdown (and it’s) been challenging but at least the classes have continued and people who are wanting to push their photography skills can do that.”
The one-night seminar for Winter, Water and Ice will be followed by an optional series of field trips that will lead photographers around the province to explore some of Nova Scotia’s most eye-catching watersheds.
For these optional trips, Boutilier-Brown has focused on about a dozen favourite spots over the years — from Sir Sandford Fleming Park to Crystal Crescent Beach and as far as Victoria Falls in Truro.
“That’s probably the most challenging to get to interestingly,” adds Boutilier-Brown. “Because although Victoria Falls Park has great trails, they tend to be covered in ice so we have to wear crampons and move cautiously over all the snow and ice.”
Boutilier-Brown says that dressing appropriately is one of the biggest keys to outdoor photography in the winter.
“There’s some famous person who once said that there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing,” says Boutilier-Brown, noting that footwear is critical. “If you’re clothed appropriately and you are comfortable and warm, it can be minus 15 and you can be out there for two hours and you’re fine.”
While the field trips will be held on weekends, weather dependent and completely optional, they are exclusive to those who have taken the 90-minute in-class seminar.
Boutilier-Brown also notes that the opportunity to photograph nature in the wintertime should not be overlooked, adding that it can be an incredibly peaceful experience as well as a unique way to explore the province.
“The thing about photography is it slows you down so you stand still and you’re in nature,” adds Boutilier-Brown. “Even if you are in downtown Bedford, you’re still surrounded by the babbling of the water and you can’t hear the cars because of the brook and so on (so) photography is a strong catalyst for taking that moment to pause and really notice the world around you.”
For more information on Winter, Water and Ice, visit Eric Boutilier-Brown’s website.