on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Winter’s Stillness

The art of exclusion

Eric Bennett

Eric Bennett

As a full-time nature photographer, author, and conservationist, I hope to share the value that wilderness has in its pure, unaltered state. In a world where we are disconnecting from nature more and more every day, I can’t think of another pursuit more worthy of my time and energy. I believe that if I can capture a scene in the right way, my photographs will inspire others to protect the last few wild places we still have left.

I currently live just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah with my wife and three children. While much of my photography is focused on the incredible scenery near my home, I have traveled to over thirty countries to capture the diverse and remarkable beauty of all different environments.


The moment I open my tent door I am greeted by icy air. The leftover water in my jetboil from last night’s dinner has frozen solid and my boots are stiff as stone. I slide down into my warm cocoon, delaying my exit for as long as possible, with the hood of my sleeping bag cinched tight around my neck, not letting any of my precious heat escape. Eventually, my parched throat needs water. Without unzipping my bag, I wrestle my arms free and reach for my bottle right next to me, but it’s frozen solid. I’ll have to go filter some fresh water from the stream.

The sun has already risen but the land remains asleep. There is a quietness that feels as though I could reach out and touch it, perhaps also frozen solid during the long dark night. Now that I am up and out of my tent, I reach down to the bottom of my sleeping bag and pull out my warm water filter and camera batteries, putting them in my backpack along with the rest of my camera gear. I will go down to the nearby stream and see what marvels nature has created today.

The wide stream that was flowing the night before has come to a halt–winter’s imposing stillness–and continues to harden and solidify. I can see diagonal lines and triangular fractal patterns forming on its surface, multiplying and becoming more pronounced by the second. Drinking water is no longer of my immediate concern, I am spellbound as I watch nature create this remarkable scenery right before my eyes.

I pull out my camera and hop around from boulder to boulder, studying the different patterns and designs in the river of ice. I move swiftly, knowing that they will not last for long, but I don’t rush. The sun will eventually rise above the treeline behind me and return the stream to its liquid state. As I begin making photos, I can now hear the bugling of elk echoing through the mountain valley. Making their final attempts to attract a mate before the range is fully blanketed in snow. Technically it’s still fall, but up here at 11,000ft winter tends to make an early arrival.

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