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Jack Frost: Artistic elf paints icy masterpieces

"Frost on the pumpkin, autumn's on its way, Frost on the windows and winter's here to stay." Frost is the perfect object - or subject - for photos.

One of the advantages and disadvantages of these cold winter days is the frost that builds up on a few of our windows. The disadvantage is that it means 'heat loss,' higher energy bills, and the wasting of a non-renewable natural resource. The advantage is that it makes for a great photo opportunity.

If you have a similar situation in your home or at your place of business, take some time to look at the nature's patterns and artistic designs. On the other hand, if your house is energy efficient and frost free, check out your friends' and neighbor's houses. If you see frost on their windows, invite yourself in for a cup of coffee and bring your camera.

If you're like me, you might have a childhood recollection of your parents saying, "Jack Frost visited us last night." So, who is Jack Frost? Where did he come from? There are many explanations regarding his origin. In Scandinavian folklore it dates back to the Vikings, who called Jack, 'Jokul Frosti,' meaning Icicle Frost. They explained him as an elf that would sneak around town at night and paint designs on windows, trees, bushes, and grass. He was the son of the Nordic wind god, Kari.

Russian folk stories explained it in a different way and even some areas of Russia gave Jack Frost a partner - 'Frost woman.' England and Germany had their versions, as did Australia, where an Aboriginal story said that frost appeared when the seven sisters of the Pleiades threw ice daggers to earth.

In 1864, Harper's Weekly published a picture by artist Thomas Nast of Central Park in winter. It showed Jack Frost as a creature covered in icicles. Other artists have drawn or painted their version of what Jack Frost looks like. Writers have written stories, comic books, poems, and songs of their version. Hollywood has put Jack Frost on the big screen.

Cecily Pike wrote a nursery song describing Jack Frost. It began with, "Look out! Look out! Jack Frost is about. He's after your fingers and toes." In the case of Scandinavian folklore, I think Jokul Frosti didn't only go after fingers and toes; he went after their noses and their sense of smell, too. That might explain why Norwegians are able to eat lutefisk.

We're going to have many frosty mornings before winter is over. Think of those times when the surrounding woodlands have looked like a city of flocked Christmas trees. Those are 'camera times.' Many of the photos that have already been sent in for viewing on the Enterprise's web site are the result of the frosty mornings we have had so far.

If you take photos of the frost on your windows or of the frost on somebody else's windows, watch for reflections and glare that will be caused by your flash. Try shooting without flash and at a slight angle instead of straight on. Remember to use a tripod whenever possible.

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