Thursday, January 17, 2013
The Beauty & Challenge Of Winter Storms
Difficult weather produces uniquely compelling conditions for photography, as well as dangers that need to be observed
The view out my window was pretty lousy! Sunrise looked to be dull and dark with thick clouds obscuring the sun. But, if you don't try, you'll never get the image, so I loaded up my gear and trekked to a location in the Alabama Hills, where interesting foreground rock formations provided leading lines to the majestic, but very dark, snow-covered Sierras. I set up my camera and waited.
Winter landscapes incorporate ominous skies, fantastic storm clouds, dramatic light, God rays, eerie mist, fog and snowstorms. These severe weather elements provide great opportunities for spectacular landscape images, but you must be prepared to deal with extreme weather conditions and also be knowledgeable about the photographic techniques needed to capture striking images.
Photographing storm elements as part of the landscape takes preparation. Do you want to feature the elements of the storm or make them an integral part of, but not the centerpiece of, the landscape itself? Evaluate the weather conditions to frame compositional considerations.
Dark, ominous skies are strong elements, but somewhat featureless, so you need an anchoring landscape element to give your image structure. Look for a hoodoo, mountain, tree, ridgeline or some geological feature, hopefully that adds color to make it stand out, when composing your image.
If you have a strong graphic image but no significant color, capture the image anyway and convert to a powerful black- and-white image using a black-and-white conversion software program like Nik Silver Efex Pro 2. Trees in snowstorms become dark silhouettes against bright backgrounds that translate into great black-and-white images. Winter mist and fog often create ethereal monochromatic conditions and softer light that you can use to create subtly toned and deeply moving images.
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