What’s Worse Than Shape Shifting Aliens?

Shape Shifting Aliens in the Snow.

Imagine fighting a shape shifting alien while not knowing whether the people around you were friends or foes. Now imagine experiencing this life or death struggle in the snow. This is what John Carpenter’s The Thing presents to the audience.

The Thing works well as a horror movie with its shape shifting alien that inhabits the bodies of its victims. The sense of fear that runs through the movie is due, in large part, to the paranoia caused by not knowing who the alien has infected. But Carpenter’s use of the snowy landscape of Antarctica adds a visceral element to the horror story. The hostile environment created by the snow and cold adds a level of conflict (man v. nature) that any viewer who has experienced a harsh winter can relate to. Viewers have never faced off against a shape shifting alien but many have experienced snowy days when temperatures dipped into negative digits.

The snow and the cold of The Thing intensify the harsh experiences the characters endure while fighting a shape shifting alien. Carpenter’s use of snow and cold also provide a visceral connection for viewers who have experienced harsh winters. We may have to imagine shape shifting aliens but harsh winters are all too real (especially for those of us in the Midwest).

-K-

The Thing (1982) starring Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, and Keith David. Directed by John Carpenter.

Warm Boots, Quiet Nights, and Medium Format

or The Satisfaction of Shooting in the Snow

Snow is part of life in the Midwest. We expect snow. We get snow. But the snow often comes when it isn’t expected, and its seldom that we get the amount that was in the forecast. It’s this unpredictable element that makes shooting in the snow a satisfying experience.

There is a wonderful quiet that comes with a snowy night. Streets empty and the general background noise of the city fades away. The snow changes the landscape. Prospective subjects present new perspectives when covered with snow. The forecast may not call for snow but its important to be ready for it. When the snow starts to fall its time to get the camera ready (my go to winter camera is a Mamiya 645), lace up a pair of warm boots, and wait for it to get so quiet you can almost hear the cold.

Snowy Street with Lights (#111-edit-scan)‘Snowy Street with Lights’

Snow in the Midwest is a given (it just not always predictable). This means there are always going to be opportunities to get out and shoot in the snow if you are prepared. Snowy nights can make for some great photographs if you are ready and willing to get a little cold.

-K-

Photogrpahy & Essays