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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It was a little Spooky at The PHOTOROGR Project this week…

I needed to get a little yard work done before the first big storm came in; I backfilled a new wall (losing 2 lbs in the process), worked on the drip system, and mowed and fertilized the lawn.  The weather came in on schedule – bringing lots of needed moisture and compacting the fill behind the wall – so I moved inside to pretend to be a studio photographer.  It’s October so my lovely bride is getting out the Fall and Halloween decorations.  They proved to be worthy subjects for my camera!

A little background – when I was finishing my engineering degree (several decades ago), my lovely bride, Susan, was at home with 2 little boys.  Between my working, going to class, and studying, we didn’t have much time for conversation.  One of our neighbors in married student housing was a mechanical engineering student and his wife was in the same predicament.  Susan and the neighbor wanted to have a night out, so they found a tole painting class.  Susan was a natural and became a world renowned tole painter.

For years, our home has been a revolving gallery of her work – the theme changing with the seasons.  With the storm in full swing, I set up a little studio and made images of Susan’s work.  I hope you enjoy her beautiful art and hope that I did proper justice to her talent.  Except where noted, the figures are painted on 1/2″ plywood and the other pieces are cut from 1/4″ pine.

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This pair of trick or treaters is painted on 1.5″ thick wood. The Witch is about 7″ tall, and the Pumpkin is about 6″ tall.

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This little Witch is 18″ from the bottom of her feet to the top of her hat, and her Ghostly companion is almost 10″ tall.   As with all her figures, Susan paints each piece individually and then assembles them.

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This beWitching lady stands about 24″ tall.

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This lovely little Witch stands about 20″ tall. Her hands are made of 3/4″ pine, and the spider is 1/2″ plywood and 1/4″ pine.

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This little Wolfman also stands about 20″ tall.

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Halloween wouldn’t be complete without a Frankenstein monster, complete with charging posts. He stands about 22″ tall.

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This is our candy basket for the trick-or-treaters. The box is about 12″ square and 3″ deep. The welcoming Ghost is about 16″ to the top of the handle, and stands in the center of the box.  This was my most challenging image, trying to get it all in focus.

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This Witch is about 16″ tall.

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I processed this image using different filters and techniques – always exploring!

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This Scarecrow guards our kitchen counter from intruders. He’s really good, because no unwanted crows are hanging around in there! He’s about 12″ tall.

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And, a little different processing makes a picture showing a different feeling.

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Susan also has a fun collection of chenille pumpkins and baskets, helping with that Autumn feeling around the house.

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The sign says ‘Pumpkins for sale,’ but don’t believe it. Susan painted the sign as a decoration, not an advertisement.

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I experimented with another of Susan’s painted pieces, this Pumpkin, and a lantern. I found the lantern to be very challenging because of the glass door. In many shots, I had unwanted reflections (in several instances, the striped socks I was wearing) blocking the candle. I made this image using multiple exposures and assembled them in Photomatix, then applied filters in Nik Color Efex Pro.

I hope these figures didn’t scare you too badly, but you can understand why it was a little spooky around here this week.  I’m just glad I didn’t watch Young Frankenstein, too!  Just wait, Christmas is around the corner…

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR