Inside this issue
End frame: Arctic Birches at Sunset, Lake Tornetrask by Lizzie Shepherd
Gary Tucker chooses one of his favourite images
I am a retired university teacher turned landscape photographer from New Brunswick, Canada. Most of my photos are local, featuring the marshes, streams, mudflats, forests, and waterfowl refuges of the Tantramar region atop the Bay of Fundy.
In 2018, my wife and I vacationed in northern England. Still fairly new to landscape photography, I brought my camera gear and a desire to shoot outside our home region of Atlantic Canada. I was also determined to visit the Joe Cornish Gallery in Northallerton, Joe Cornish being one of the few British photographers of whom I’d then heard. I was, of course, delighted to see prints of his work and also to find prints by American Charles Cramer, another early favourite of mine.
Browsing the gallery’s other offerings, I was suddenly arrested by a powerful winter scene: lodged in the snow, an explosive tangle of bare, stunted birch trees dominate the foreground; more birch retreat into the distance. At the horizon, a pink evening glow might be the Belt of Venus. Gosh, this could almost be a Canadian winter scene – except where I live, we don’t have that splendidly gnarly type of birch.
What first drew me to Lizzie Shepherd’s Arctic birches at sunset, Lake Tornetrask, were its lovely muted colours. Winter in northern regions is sufficiently devoid of strong colour that we’re tempted to revert to monochrome. (A splendid example, Lizzie Shepherd’s Snow Lines, forms the subject of Rachael Talibart’s “End Frame” essay in issue 226.) Colour is essential here, however, and the overall scene is rendered in cold, calm pastels: blue-white for the snow, just slightly bluer for the evening sky, and delicate pinks for the distant, sunkissed mountains. (Yes, that’s not Venus’ belt but snow-capped mountains, likely on the far side of Sweden’s Lake Torneträsk.)
Delicate colours, then: bright, frigid, and still. The birches, however, riot against this stillness, their twist-ed limbs writhe in strongly contrasting patches of blue-white and black; and the more distant mass of birch draw a fuzzy grey band below the pink and blue mountains.