Shooting in snow! What a fun challenge!

Our collective attention has focused on the weather for the last week or so, as seemingly the entire nation has been under siege by cold and snow.  (One of my good friends ran off to Australia to escape.  Travel safe, Butch!)

Taking pictures in snow is very challenging.  I’m taking a winter/snow photography class next week so I’ll learn the mistakes I made in shooting for the last couple days, but I’ve had a great time this week and I look forward to learning something next week!

I’ve been out in the Carson Valley the last couple days.  The snow was falling both days – very evident in many of the images.  One of the challenges of shooting snow is preventing the snow from blowing out (or overexposing), making great white spots in the images with no recoverable detail.  One means of preventing this, I’ve read, is to overexpose the image by one stop.  (This is primarily done to maintain white balance in snow pictures.  Since I shoot exclusively in RAW format and assign white balance in the computer, this is not a factor for me.)  I tried this technique and feel that I had great success.

Let’s get to the pictures!

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You’ve seen these horses before – they were in a landscape I did last year. The two on the left were standing in the snow, and the horse on the right came over the culvert to join them. I couldn’t have placed them in better position.

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The irrigation ditches are running strong with all the moisture we’ve had. I was drawn by this meandering ditch with the yellow vegetation covered in snow. I thought about processing this in black and white but I loved how the yellow showed through, so I left it alone.

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This is a bigger irrigation ditch with more vegetation. I didn’t need to desaturate (remove the color to make it black, white, and various shades of grey) the colors…nature did it for me!

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I processed this scene using Photoshop and Nik Silver Efex to enhance the contrast, give the image a bluish tone, and add a nice vignette and border. I loved the dark tree in the foreground with the smaller tree up the hillside in the background!

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I had a lot of fun with this image. This is the Genoa Bar in Genoa, Nevada. It is the oldest bar in Nevada. I had made three images when a guy drive his car into the foreground and parked. Darn it! For this version, I processed the RAW image and went into Photoshop. I created a duplicate layer and desaturated the first (or background) layer, then applied a Gaussian blur to the duplicate color layer. I overlaid the blurred layer on the black and white layer and blended them. I then adjusted shadows and highlights and applied a vignette to make this image. It’s a technique called ‘Dreamscape’ that I learned in a weekly photo challenge a couple years ago. It’s a fun effect and works well for this image.

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Dreamscape is not for everyone, however.  A couple of my friends didn’t like the above image, so I processed this image without the Dreamscape effect. Like most art, beauty is in the eye of the beholder (or something like that).

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After the interloper disrupted my Genoa Bar shoot, I rolled forward a few feet and began shooting the structures next door. This antique store, with its wagon and covered porch, made a great composition. I worked to bring out the colors in the buildings and the wagon to offset the snow covered trees and foreground. If only I’d had some people in period costume or maybe a horse or two…oh well!

There’s a few of my snowy images from this week.  I hope you enjoyed them.  I look forward to learning how to take pictures in the snow next week, and sharing the results with you!  Everyone stay warm, drive safe, and enjoy!  PHOTOROGR

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“Don’t start breaking the rules…

…until you know and understand them.”  This is the final tip in an article called ’50 Tips from 50 Years Behind the Camera’ by Allen Weitz (https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/tips-and-solutions/50-tips-50-years-behind-camera?BI=4906).

My lovely bride found the article and sent it to me (it’s so nice to have a partner who supports your habits).  The other 49 tips are also good but this one resonated with me for some reason, especially as we begin a new year.  I began my journey in creative photography a few years ago with the stated intent to learn how to take better pictures.  Every now and then I catch myself challenging those few rules that I know, mostly as I investigate more creative techniques and photographs.  These tips help me be a little grounded, though, because I don’t know all the rules – YET!  I’ll just have to continue working on it!  Stay tuned to watch me challenge the rules…as I learn them.

The winter months can be challenging for photographers.  Here in the Carson Valley, when the weather gets cold we break out the really big lenses and go looking for the Raptors and other predatory animals that migrate into the area during this time.  We’ve seen a few Bald and Golden Eagles in the area, but the Hawks and Coyotes are the most evident, at least for me.  Here’s a few for your enjoyment!

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I saw this three-legged Coyote near the California line a few days ago. He wasn’t interested in me taking his picture!

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I found this female Northern Harrier on Mottsville Lane last week.

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Several friends like the previous picture, but I’m kind of partial to this one. She appears to be thinking about something, but she’s actually cleaning herself. This is my favorite composition for a Raptor picture – eye level, wide aperture giving great detail on the subject with a pleasing out of focus background.

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I found the Red Tailed Hawk south of Genoa. I think he was checking his position relative to the camera to ensure I got his good side.

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American Kestrels are the smallest and most common of the Falcons, but they are extremely camera shy. I snuck up on this guy while he was enjoying lunch!

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But I obviously over stayed my welcome.

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I first saw this Kestrel on a utility wire, but he quickly flew to the backslope across the road. I was very excited to get a Kestrel with a background other than a blown out sky.

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Of course, he took exception to me taking pictures of him and flew off to another utility line.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR