Capturing the Moments of Winter
Being the nature photographer that I am, I look forward to seasonal changes because it gives me something new to photograph. I never really opened my mind to all the little moments of winter until it snowed in October 2012. I had taken various photos of snow for the last few years or so, but I never truly took the time to photograph the littlest moments in plain sight—it was usually the larger picture, like an open landscape.
Now, if you really want to go out and try something a little new, don’t let the falling snowflakes or cold air intimidate you….or that you may have to hold an umbrella at the same time. Your creativity won’t go anywhere if you don’t go out and try. So if you have some warm clothing and you’re not fighting a cold or anything (I’d still go out anyway!), then take the time to go out and see what you can find in your yard or a local park, or a walk around the neighborhood.
After the rainy snow, it had formed into ice and bent trees, and right then I saw dozens of little moments to capture. This first photo is the “before” photo showing what was in plain sight.
To begin with, I was using a 17-40mm f4.0L wide angle lens. I shot this at 40m – f4.0. It’s not entirely in focus, but I am not too picky about that, because I love working with blurs!
This is the “before” shot of the icy branches, showing what it looks like if you were to walk by it and not think much of it.
I used my 50mm f/1.4 portrait lens. I shot at an f-stop of 2.8 because I like those creamy-ish backgrounds.
One way to capture the snow falling, is if you’re shooting it against a dark background. In this shot, the contrast of the frozen water brought out the detail of the snowflakes.
Another way to make the snow pop! is to manually focus the lens against a non white/grey background.
In this next shot, I had used a telephoto because I was standing on the porch away from the snow, but I had manually focused the lens and shot so that the dark trees and houses would be in the background, making the snow more visible. Just pick anything that doesn’t resemble the same shade as the snow. If you study the image, you’ll notice that you can’t even see the snow on the white-grey areas.
Just have fun and experiment with the depth of field by changing the f-stop. The lower the f-stop, the more creamy/blurry the background will be, which is what you want for a shot like this.
If I remember correctly from my experience, if you turn the focusing ring until everything looks like a big blotchy blur, you probably won’t get any detailed snow shots unless maybe you have a higher f-stop…I don’t remember exactly, but I had focused the lens so that the background appeared as blurred as the image below.
This was shot at f4.0 on a 70-200mm.
One thing that really caught my eye, was the tree that bent over into pond.
If you’re ever passing by a calm pond or type of water surface that’s producing a reflection, be sure to really notice it and how it can look different depending on the perspective. I usually look down at the surface of the pond and take photos of the reflections to make it look surreal.
I usually flip it upside down to make it even more surreal.
These moments didn’t last all day. Within no time, the clouds floated away and the sun melted the ice almost instantly. It was all about timing and taking advantage of the beautiful moments.
One moment they’re here…and the next moment they’re gone.
“Moments” can be anything, anyone, anywhere, and for me, it’s a lot of naturey stuff!