The Winter rut…. The leaves are gone. Water levels have dropped and everything looks so bare and blah. Most of us are waiting for the next snow storm, where the obvious plan is to get up top where the snow is deeper and wind blown. Add in some passing fog and some golden light and voila!, you’ve got yourself a winning image! However, there is a fair amount of time that casually passes by unnoticed. It seems so cold out there at 4am and it’s quite easy to say, “well perhaps another day when the conditions are better.” It’s easy to find yourself in the “There’s nothing good out there” phase.
One sure fire recipe to overcome the winter blues is to get out there! Go out in the crisp air and take in the surroundings. You’ll begin to notice things that weren’t that obvious in the summer months. Exposed rocks and Evergreens are some of my favorites. I also look for ice and repeating patterns. Ice will reflect light and also create some interesting patterns. I’m really drawn to partially frozen lakes, which are a great opportunity for leading lines and patterns.
Another crucial element you can introduce in to your image is beautiful golden light. Once you have scouted your location, it’s time to refer to The Photographer’s Ephemeris. A trusty guide that will help you identify the time and direction of your sunrise or sunset. When shooting the sunrise, I will typically take several approaches. One, I consider the obvious… To include your foreground subject or anchor in your image as part of the sunrise. If this is not to your liking, you can also go darker… exposing more for the direct sun and turning your foreground in to a silhouette.
Finally, throw on the zoom and get close… Get right in to the image. A good example here would be light rays off in the distance. Finally, something I really enjoy in the winter is the micro world. As you’re out on your adventure, take a moment to look around for anything of interest down on the ground.. Things I will often find are frozen leaves, patterns in ice and the occasional winter plant in hybernation. As you are stomping around in the snow searching for your compositions, don’t forget to look for the occasional candid. Images of people playing in the snow are always great and who knows, you might find someone that could use your candid in a brochure or website. Double Bonus!
By all means, when it’s cold and snowy, do go out… It’s a perfect day to explore and photograph a gorgeous, snow covered landscape. Or perhaps an iced over stream or waterfall. Whatever you’re flavor, don’t forget to take a few close ups! Pine Cones and dried flowers can be a very interesting subject when done with a white cap 🙂
I hope in some small way, this helps you to break out of the winter blues. It’s truly a beautiful time out there, so get out and enjoy it! Oh and don’t forget to dress appropriately, there is nothing worse than being uncomfortable. Happy Shooting!