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I’ve shared my visits to West Rutland Marsh over the past few years and talked about how wonderful this location is, so unlike any other place I’ve found, with it’s boardwalk out into the marsh itself providing a unique and intimate access to an environment that is almost impossible to reach otherwise.  Even in the winter, when I have little expectation of finding much wildlife, I still return to the marsh so that I can walk out over the frozen channels, amid the fallen reeds, and watch the warm colors of sunrise spread across the landscape.

My second morning in Vermont was the only one with a clear sky, although it was still mostly overcast as I dragged myself out of bed and bundled out of the house.  It was 11 degrees when I started the Jeep and let it warm up, and when it reached the marsh it was only 9 degrees, although there were still birds at the marsh feeders, and the sky was quickly clearing and beginning to glow with sunrise.

The opening photo is my favorite from the series, although I was shot later, after the sun was cresting the eastern mountains and spilling warm light down the facing slopes towards the marsh.  Before that, the landscape was dominated by blues, as in the image below, where I feel like you can actually see how cold the twilight was.

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The light changed quickly and I found myself moving back and forth along the boardwalk, alternating between the mountains and the marsh, watching as the rising sunlight played across both and changed the scene minute by minute.

I was drawn back to the same scene, however: the house and barn across the marsh from me, tucked into the base of the mountain.  It’s the contrast to the otherwise mostly-natural landscape, a pocket of humanity that looked warm and welcoming.  It was easy to imagine a family living there, waking up on a cold morning, enjoying their splendid view of the marsh over a cup of steaming coffee.

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As opposed to the moron who got up at 6am on vacation to go stand in the middle of a frozen marsh on a 9 degree morning to take photos, his double-gloved hands going numb as he tries to work the camera controls.  But I digress…

The version above, in black & white, was unplanned.  It came up on the monitor for editing the other day and my mind immediately went to “that’d look good in black and white.”  Don’t know why, as none of the other images got that response, but I gave it a try and rather liked it.  So it’s a little random, but there you go.

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I probably spent a solid half-hour at the marsh before I gave in to the cold and trudged back to the Jeep, which had gone cold itself, and headed on to my next destination.

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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