Friday Foto Talk: Shooting in Winter, Part I   2 comments

From a previous trip to Nepal, this is the roof of the world.  Going up in elevation like this makes every day of the year a winter day!

From a previous trip to Nepal, this is the roof of the world – Everest & Lhotse. Going up to high altitudes in high mountains makes every day of the year a winter day!

Winter is upon us and it’s tempting to put your photography on hiatus.  The cold and wet is not only uncomfortable to shoot in, it can also be hazardous to your camera equipment.  Avoiding wintertime photography, however, means missing some beautiful pictures.  In this first part I’ll do my best to convince you to keep shooting through the winter months.  In Part II, I’ll pass on some tips and other ways to help you protect your gear and get some great shots.

Enjoy a grab-bag of images both recent and older while you’re at it!  Remember that all of them are copyrighted and not available for free download without my permission.  Just click on the images to go to my main gallery page or contact me for requests on specific recent images.  I’m happy to hear from you!

A recent image, this is a snowy morning spent on the canyon rim of the Rio Grande in New Mexico.

A recent image, this is a snowy morning spent on the canyon rim of the Rio Grande in New Mexico.

Click image to purchase.  Late winter blends into spring in Oregon with a gorgeous rainbow.

Click image to purchase. Late winter blends into spring in rural Oregon with a gorgeous rainbow.

Benefits of Shooting in Winter

      • Scenes with snow and ice have a special feel to them.  There is no other time in which to get those atmospheric shots of snow and ice but during the winter months.
      • For those who live outside the tropics, the sun is lower this time of year.  That means you get nicer light for longer periods of time.  With winter solstice, the shortest days of the year are right now.  Depending on how far north you are and the quality of light, you may even be able to shoot in beautiful light from dawn to dusk.
      • The air is most clear and pristine at this time of year, giving the light a special character.  The atmosphere is often cold from top to bottom and the days are short.  This means the ground and the air near it doesn’t warm up appreciably during the day.  The rising heat waves that tend to distort things to one degree or another in summer are almost absent.  Even distant mountains can take on a startling clarity in wintertime.
      • For most areas, wintertime brings stormy weather.  This means it’s your best chance to capture dramatic skies and misty atmospheric light.
      • Similar to the above point, winter is when you’ll find fog in the mornings.  As you drive or walk around, try to imagine what a scene might look like shrouded in fog.  A scene you wouldn’t think of capturing at other times can yield gorgeous shots in fog.
The pastels in this dusk image near Mammoth Lakes, California only appear in winter's frigid and pristine air.

The pastels in this dusk image near Mammoth Lakes, California only appear in winter’s frigid and pristine air.

      • There are fewer other photographers around in winter.  So shooting at popular spots is easier.  If you’re willing to bundle up and go out on freezing mornings, you are unlikely to find your favorite shooting positions already occupied.
      • Speaking of shooting at sunrise, if you’re not exactly a morning person (like me), it’s easier to drag yourself out of bed for the later sunrises during winter.  With the earlier sunset, you might find it easier to shoot and still make dinner afterwards at this time of year.
      • Lastly, winter is a perfect time to experiment with shooting still lifes or portraits at home.  Experiment with using window light or various types of artificial lighting (including flash).  Buy fresh flowers and photograph them.  Even try your hand at product photography.  Use your imagination, but don’t stay inside.  Winter light is waiting!

Reading the above, it seems like a no-brainer to keep going full steam ahead with your photography during winter.  Of course nothing comes for free, and one can easily think of reasons to make your shooting less frequent.  The cold and wet can really put a damper on both your spirits and your equipment.  Days are short and light is often low.  But are these reasons or excuses?  Stay tuned next Friday Foto Talk for ways to avoid some of the pitfalls of wintertime photography, how to make it rewarding and even enjoyable.

A winter storm moves through the interior of Mexico's Baja Peninsula, far from the beaches of Cabo.

A winter storm moves through the interior of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, far from the beaches of Cabo.

Sunset in the desert of Anza Borrego State Park, California, the light has that winter clarity.

Sunset in the desert of Anza Borrego State Park, California, the light has that winter clarity in this recent image.

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2 responses to “Friday Foto Talk: Shooting in Winter, Part I

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  1. Gorgeous photography and inspiring commentary. Thanks for making getting out there in the cold seem much more attractive than it did before reading your post.

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