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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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7 Location: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Photographer: Ian Plant
Yellowstone is a world beyond our own, emerging from the mists of time as a remnant of days long past. Here, the engines of creation still churn, steaming with all the fury of the gods of old. Winter is the time when Yellowstone is at its most desolate and desperate—and its most beautiful. Clear, cold mornings are best for wildlife and landscape photography, as everything—landscape and wildlife alike—is covered in a layer of frost from geothermal steam. Look for bison, elk, coyotes, bighorn sheep and wolves struggling to survive the cold, along with a host of smaller critters. The northern road from Gardiner to Cooke City is kept open to autos (which grants access to Mammoth Springs and Lamar Valley, two photography hot spots), whereas winter access to the rest of the park's interior is by snow coach or snowmobile tour only. Stay a few nights at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge for the ultimate Yellowstone winter experience.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II, Canon EF 24-105mm ƒ/4L IS USM
See more of Ian Plant's photography at www.ianplant.com.

8 Location: Costa Rica
Photographer: Roger Devore
Toughing it out in the cold to photograph fresh snowfall is all well and good, but winter is also a perfect time to head south where equatorial sunshine gives you a chance to photograph richly colored tropical environments. Costa Rica offers outstanding opportunities for both unique wildlife and landscapes. Winter is the dry season there, which makes it a particularly good time for photographers.

Sony a77, Sony 70-400mm ƒ/4-5.6 G2
See more of Roger Devore's photography at www.natureworkshops.com.

9 Location: Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park, Florida
Photographer: Russ Burden
Florida is arguably the best state in the country to create spectacular bird images. Everything from dramatic portraits to behavioral interaction can be photographed, often at short distances. The approachability factor has to be experienced to be believed. Winter is an ideal time to visit the active birding locations. This time of year, at Anhinga Trail in the Everglades, the birds are found in gorgeous breeding plumage, displaying mating rituals, gathering nesting materials and rearing their young. These are great photo opportunities to capture behavior, and you can do it in a T-shirt and shorts—great photography and great weather! Species that can be found along the Anhinga Trail are snowy egrets, great egrets, great blue, green, tricolor and little blue herons, ibis, red shoulder hawks, osprey, anhinga and cormorants in addition to many more species of birds and mammals. It's a wildlife photographer's paradise.

Big telephoto lenses are most commonly used, but there are so many birds that can be approached, they're not a necessity. If you do carry a long lens, support it on a tripod. A second body with a medium telephoto zoom is advantageous for birds that are close. A flash with a Better Beamer will help on overcast days and to fill in shadow areas.

Nikon D300, AF-S Nikkor 200-400mm ƒ/4G ED VR II, Induro C313 tripod, Wimberley head
See more of Russ Burden's photography at www.russburdenphotography.com.

10 Location: South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Photographer: Tom Till
I try to visit Grand Canyon at least once or twice every winter. I wait for storms coming from the Pacific, travel to the park before the storm strikes, and shoot when the storm starts to break up and the air is clarified and the snow is fresh. At 7,000 feet, the South Rim is a snow magnet during most years, flocking the forests above on the canyon's edges and filling the chasm with alpenglow and moody mists. Sunrise at Mather Point is a favorite spot; the desert east of the canyon is less likely to hold clouds and allows streamers of light to slip in below the clouds. Don't expect these conditions to last for too long. The fresh snow often has a short shelf life, and your magnificent scene can vanish before your eyes if the sun appears and the clouds depart.

Nikon D800E, AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm ƒ/2.8G ED VR II
See more of Tom Till's photography at www.tomtillphotography.com.

11 Location: Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina
Photographer: Richard Bernabe
The stretch of Highway 12 that traverses the entire north-south length of Hatteras Island in North Carolina affords easy access to mile after mile of wild, windswept sand dunes. The dunes themselves and wild sea oats provide for some compelling foregrounds for wide-angle compositions, particularly at sunrise and sunset. The narrow ribbon of land allows spectacular views of both the Atlantic Ocean and the Pamlico Sound from the same spot! This time of year, the tourists who flock to the Outer Banks in summer are nowhere to be seen and the pristine Cape Hatteras National Seashore has a feeling of profound solitude. After a winter storm, you can get lucky and photograph a fresh coating of snow on the dunes, which makes for a surreal image.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 24-105mm ƒ/4L USM
See more of Richard Bernabe's photography at www.richardbernabe.com.


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