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Photographing the 2015 Boston Blizzard – (Part 1: The Ghost City)

A record breaking winter. Yes, this is what this winter is in Boston. With 104 inches (2m64) of snow so far (March 1st) since the beginning of this incredible winter, it’s the second snowiest winter ever in Boston with a record at 107 inches (2m71). February already hit the 1st place as the snowiest month in the history of Boston.

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Almost 72 inches here (2m) and the wind blowing.

In terms of temperature, it is also one of the coldest winter ever. With some temperatures at -13F (-25C) and reaching -24F (-31C) with wind chill. This is also one of the reasons why the bay of Boston froze.

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Boston’s bay all frozen like a floe from Quincy. You can see Boston’s skyline in the horizon.

Of course, the Charles River is all frozen, but it’s more unusual concerning the ocean! Unless you live in the north pole or…in Canada eh? 😉 You probably saw the frozen wave photographed in the south of Boston, in a tiny island called Nantucket (watch here)? Boston is currently more or less in the same situation as Fairbanks, Alaska. You read it correctly, “Alaska”.

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In order to avoid to undergo this kind of damage, you can see what my colleague and friend Scubagal prepared for you here.

With that being said, I wanted to share with you my experience as a photographer in these particularly unfriendly conditions. I took my camera, but also my iPhone 6, you will understand later why, to photographer the city in different ways. In order to have different aspects of the city, I photographed Boston during the very first blizzard that brought 2 feet (60cm) of snow during the night but also a couple of days later with the sun up in the sky and during the golden hour.

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John Fitzgerald Surface Road next to South Station, downtown Boston during the travel ban.
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Empty chair on the frozen Charles River in front of Cambridge (Harvard). Temperature: -24F (-31C)!

I wanted to photograph the city, but also the snow, the city landscapes and experience macro in those conditions. As you can understand, that represents very different visions of this situation so I’ll share the macro photographs and experience next week in the sequel of this article.

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180 pano. Tremont Street in front of the Boston Common. Literally empty!

As the blizzard reached 2 feet (60cm) of snow over the night, the governor of Massachusetts declared the State of emergency and set a travel ban for 24h. That led to an incredible ghost city. The downtown, the public gardens, the main avenues and even highways of course were literally empty. Boston is usually so crowded downtown but its legendary traffic jam had disappeared.

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Unbelievable vision of one of the major US cities buried into the snow. While wandering all alone in an empty downtown, it made me think of the movie The Day After Tomorrow.

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There is actually a lake underneath. The wind was pretty strong but it doesn’t show that much on the picture. Don’t hesitate to click on it.

And then I thought I was hallucinating. 2 women including one with her baby came out of nowhere braving this freezing wind! I had no choice but to take my iPhone 6 as my camera was buried in my backpack for protection at that time.

Like an old time song, these pictures reminds me of the “Boston Strong” motto: Nothing can stop a Bostonian! 😉 A couple of days later it was a jogger next to the Charles River running while the temperature was no more than -24F (-31C) with wind chill.

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Unfortunately, as a result of the huge amount of snow, about 20 roofs in the Boston area collapsed. But not in downtown Boston where the danger comes from the icicles basically everywhere. There are delimited zones on the side walks where we cannot walk because ice falling on the ground.

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The famous Back Bay neighborhood with “a couple” of icicles.

The various harbors are paralyzed because of arctic temperatures. Ferries cannot maintain there daily activities. The metro has been heavily impacted too. Boston’s transportation MBTA announced a week ago that they would need a month to come back to a normal activity.

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(Photo credit: Idealuz Photography)

It is also very interesting to discover the greater Boston at night in the residential areas:

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Santa was probably here, resting after an exhausting gift distribution a couple of weeks ago.

The houses turned into Santa’s land. The light was amazing. It was probably one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve seen during this blizzard event. Unfortunately the batteries of my camera went down after a whole day shooting by -13F (-25C), so these are iPhone 6’s pictures.

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Or here, who knows? (Photo credit: Idealuz Photography)

The atmosphere was somewhat surreal as you can see underneath.   While trying to reach some interesting spots, I had snow above the waist which did not help at all to move forward. I had sometimes to roll on my side to get out of this very fluffy snow. This was actually pretty cool and funny.

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And why not over there?! I could already see Santa’s little helpers. (Photo credit: Idealuz Photography)

But then getting back home was also a relief after such a long day outdoors. Something warm and cosy eventually! :-)

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(Photo credit: Idealuz Photography)

I just couldn’t forget to introduce you to my furry friends who were there during this blizzard. This picture was actually taken the same day as the cover picture of this article (and the jogger).

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(Photo credit: Idealuz Photography)

And a very last selfie to end this day. Stay tuned  as next week we’ll see an all very different approach of this blizzard! It will also be more technical. Second part here.

While waiting, don’t forget to check out my other articles about butterfliesartful droplets and my 6 tips you never heard of and many more!

My flickr, 500px and Shutterstock

See you for the next photographic adventure!

Chris

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