It is January.  Old Man Winter has the Mid-Atlantic region firmly in his grasp.  For several days in a row, temperatures have dipped down into the teens and single digits.  Some places are seeing heavy snows for the first time in years.

While many folks choose to hibernate with their cameras until the spring thaw, I recommend you dress in warm layers, grab your hat and gear, and head outdoors.  Keep a spare battery in your pants pocket for your camera and stuff a chemical hand-warmer or two in your coat pocket for you.  Both of you are now prepared to face the elements.  As long as you are comfortable, your camera will be, too.  You will see and photograph things about which the hibernators can only dream.

Shoveler and snow

Northern shoveler in the Inner Harbor

I am not suggesting you head to the Yukon or the backcountry of Yellowstone National Park.  You do not have to venture far from home to capture unique wintry images.  Here, for example, is an image I shot last evening of Baltimore’s beloved Domino Sugar refinery casting a warm glow across the frozen waters of the Inner Harbor.  You do not see this icy scene every winter, so it’s a rare treat.

One of the passing storms must have blown this Northern Shoveler off course.  I do not recall seeing this species this far inland.  I was pleased to discover this drake and several females during a recent snow flurry  They were foraging alongside the waterfront promenade near the Maryland Science Center; a pleasant 10 minute walk from my house.

In a snowy wood

Great horned owl - Bubo virginianus

After one snowstorm I photographed this Great Horned Owl in a wooded area.  He had been injured in a car accident but fortunately was rehabilitated.  Though he is non-releasable due to his injury, he is quite photogenic … in particular in this forest setting, his natural environment.  Many state parks provide opportunities to photograph rehabilitated raptors.  For example, here in the Baltimore area Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area offers their Feathers in Focus photography program several times throughout the year.

Wherever you live ... the city, the suburbs, the countryside ... head outdoors this winter and explore your local area.  You will be glad that you captured the scenic and picturesque wonders available only during this time of year.