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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pro Winter Hot Spots


Top locations for you to get your best shots this winter

Labels: Locations
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Winter is a proving ground for nature photographers. Cold temperatures take a toll on the body, snow and ice are poised to wreak havoc with photography gear, and short days reduce your time to find compelling scenes in the field. It's not like crab fishing on the Bering Sea, but it's not like the pastoral, warm days of summer, either. If you can tear yourself away from binge-watching seasons of Deadliest Catch in the comfort of a heated living room, however, winter serves up some of the best photo opportunities of the year.

We reached out to a number of pros to get their input on the best places for shooting at this time of year. You could fill a book with the possibilities. We only have a limited number of pages, so let this guide be a starting point in your quest for the best winter photographs.

Do you have suggestions for other winter hot spots? I'm running an Assignment at outdoorphotographer.com, where you can share your favorite places and your best photos from those locations with the OP community.
—Christopher Robinson, Editor

1 Location: Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, California
Photographer: Don Smith
I've been visiting Lake Tahoe since my youth. Fresh snow mornings were always exciting, especially because I loved to snow-ski. Now that I'm a landscape photographer, they're exciting in a different way. Emerald Bay is always a great sunrise location, regardless of the time of year, but it's especially interesting after a fresh snowfall, as the scene becomes transformed into a kaleidoscope of light and color.

After three late-season storms pounded the Tahoe Basin in 2011, I arrived in the dark, and I could see that the storms had subsided just enough for this magical warm dawn light to paint the sky and also reflect off the calm surface of the lake. The fresh snow allowed for detail on and around the pines that surrounded the bay. The best of the light came and went inside of two minutes, but it was one heck of a show!

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, Canon EF 16-35mm ƒ/2.8L USM, Singh-Ray LB Slim Polarizer, Singh-Ray 2-stop graduated neutral-density filter
See more of Don Smith's photography at www.donsmithphotography.com.

2 Location: Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Photographer: Stephen Oachs
I often spend a few winter weeks each year in the desert Southwest. It's a much cooler climate, there are few tourists and, if Mother Nature cooperates, snowfall across the alien landscapes makes for some fantastic photographs like the photograph here.

In December of 2010, I was in Arches National Park and conditions had been less than ideal. I began researching the weather to help me decide which direction to head next. When I saw there was a large cold front expected to blow over western Utah the next morning, I made the decision to pack up my motor home and make the long drive from Arches to Bryce. Under normal conditions, this would only be a few hours' drive; however, the winter conditions would prove to make it a much, much longer journey.

I left from Moab around 4 o'clock in the afternoon and drove nearly all night, arriving in Bryce just in time for sunrise. As I walked up to the scenic overlook, a bus full of tourists was swarming about. I could tell that the early-morning light was going to be great, so I did my best to work my way to the railing and set up, all the while, tourists bumping into me as they took their snapshots. After about an hour of panoramic shooting, I returned to my motor home for much needed warmth and a catnap!

This photograph is actually not one single photo, but 60 images captured in sequence using a multi-row panoramic technique that allows each image to be joined together with software. The end result is an extremely high-resolution photograph. In this image of Bryce Canyon, the final stitched combination is equal to a 551-megapixel photograph and contains enough resolution to be printed the size of a billboard with fine-art quality. (See the article "Gigapixel" by Stephen Oachs on his technique in the November issue of OP)

See more of Stephen Oachs' photography at www.apertureacademy.com.

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