Like no other media, 360-degree panoramas allow me to immerse people into a landscape and inspire a sense of what it was like to actually be there. The natural beauty we have here in Ohio is virtually unknown around the world, and sadly, even around the corner. My favorite aspect of panoramic photography is to share my favorite times and places, motivating tourists to come out and visit and prodding locals to get out and explore!
One thing that is definitely not lost on most people are the bitterly frigid winters experienced in the Midwest and Northeast. As a life-long resident of Northeast Ohio, I will vouch that the winter here definitely lives up to its reputation most years! However, I don’t think the extreme cold we experience should remain the sole headline…
Winters don’t just bring cold…winters transform our landscape. Once I became a photographer and began to observe my environment more deeply, I found new appreciation for our winters. Don’t get me wrong, summers here are incredible…one thing I never appreciated about Ohio until I traveled more to the Western United States, is that Ohio is exceptionally lush in the summertime. Most of this is due to the enormous trees that define our landscape and lead to Cleveland’s nickname as the “Forest City”. Our trees burst into blossom and clothe themselves in leaves each spring—and burst again into color as they shed their leaves in fall—winter is often thought of as that space in between, where the landscape is just cold and dead.
This all changes, of course, when snow and ice set in and transform this world of brown and grey into a quiet magical landscape that can only be described as “winter wonderland”. Again, I believe that the trees are the stars of the show, collecting garments of white and crystal after a fresh snowfall and showing them off when the sun comes out after the storm.
While most winter storms leave behind a decorative topping of snow, certain storms are especially unique—meaning a special type of winter wonderland. Winter Storm Linus was one such storm. It dropped about eight inches of wet snow on Greater Cleveland over the course of about 36 hours. Temperatures throughout the storm caused snow to not only collect on top of everything, but also for it to stick to just about any vertical surface exposed to the wind. The storm moved out early on Monday afternoon, February 2. Thankfully most of the clouds moved out with it too, allowing the sun and blue sky to create an incredible show!
Becky and I missed the bulk of the storm’s snowfall, as we spent the weekend with friends just 100 miles south in the Columbus area. While snow fell continuously at home back in Cleveland, Central Ohio experienced only rain at the end of Linus. We returned home to this incredible winter wonderland and just had to head out and photograph it!
The panoramas here are taken in the Rocky River Reservation in the Cleveland Metroparks in North Olmsted. These scenes are all near the giant cliffs of Fort Hill to the north, and Cedar Point* to the south, which splits the Rocky River into its East and West Branches.
* Not to be confused with the famous Sandusky theme park!