Winter on Buttertubs Pass

This shot, looking down on Buttertubs Pass, is perhaps my favourite shot of the winter. Taken between snow squalls it depicts the pass as a thin black thread, dwarfed by the epic landscape it crosses. The road rushes out from behind the rocks , like a negative lighting strike, before quickly disappearing from view, almost as though it itself wants to get “the hell off that hill”!  The angle of the road evokes a sense of speed and dynamism, while the rocks in the foreground echo the mountainous nature of the surroundings and anchors the composition. 

Shooting between fast moving snow squalls and buffeted by strong winds is always a challenge and inevitably leads to compromise. Luckily the wind was at my back, so with care the lens stayed dry. Each interval between squalls provided a minute or so to shoot, before the road again disappeared from view. Though I had a tripod there was no chance of a long exposure, so each shot was taken hand held at 1/200 sec. Without wanting to bump the ISO past 200 this meant an aperture of f8 and therefore a choice between foreground and background focus. For this composition the foreground had to be sharp and in these conditions the compromise works, as the background fades naturally. 

Trying to review what you’ve taken in a blizzard can be difficult to say the least so I tried various compositions (see below) before the snow set in permanently, the view disappeared, and it was time to leave. 

Often in these circumstances it’s only when you’re back home that you find out what you’ve got. Luckily, and luck plays a big part when shooting in these conditions, I’d found a composition that worked. 

The end result epitomises one of my aims as a commercial landscape photographer; one that I’ve learned is fundemental to selling work.  Put short it is:  ”to capture a unique perspective on a familiar subject; a subject that people will recognise and have a connection to”.  Everyone who’s crossed Buttertubs has a story to tell, but though it will be instantly recognisable to those who know it, it’s unlikely they’ve ever experienced the pass from that vantage point and in these conditions.

Hopefully it qualifies as a photograph of the pass like no other! 

Using Format