Tuesday, October 25, 2011
The Season Of Solitude
Marc Adamus’ winter landscape images combine light, form and color to transport the viewer into a place and a state of emotion
"Most of the color comes from just the raw processing," Adamus says. "There are some more specific fine-tuning and adjustments that go on in Photoshop—just isolating specific areas of color and getting the most out of them—but everything in that scene postproduction-wise could be dummied down to RAW processing of the sky in one image and then the landscape in the other so that you get the best out of both, then painting those together and a little bit of dodge and burn on top of that. The sun is right on the horizon in that image, and that makes for some pretty good color when you have those clouds up there."
The glowing Banff landscape is highly representative of Adamus' winter portfolio as a whole: The photographs are overflowing with color. It might be easy to imagine winter photography as devoid of vibrancy, blanketed in white, with high contrast between light and shadow and little of the color seen in other seasons. But winter can be just as colorful, and in Adamus' photographs, it's fully in bloom.
"I think people kind of have the idea in their head that winter is a time of death, a time when everything is dormant and stark and not very inviting," he says. "Color really helps attract people to a scene. Plus, new snowfall is one of the great reflectors of light, one of the great catchers of light we have. When I'm shooting a fiery sunset or a sunrise or great color in the sky out there, all of that's reflected onto that snow. And that just helps carry that beautiful rich color throughout the scene, which helps tie everything together exposure-wise and invites people into that scene. I'll take every opportunity I can to get that color."
Adamus continues, "Plus, ice around water is just tremendously luminous. One great way to photograph ice and water together is to find those reflected light opportunities. Ice and water look really cool, but they're not the most photogenic things in the world until you find some way to separate the two. They have very similar exposure and luminosity values, so oftentimes when you see an image of the two together, it's very hard to find that separation, that contrast that really drives the image. Utilizing that type of reflected light onto the ice or onto the water to distinguish the two can be really advantageous as well. Wherever I'm shooting, if it's snow-covered or ice-covered or whatever, I'm looking for that reflected light."
"I find that winter landscapes, in general, are more simplistic," he says, "and many times that really makes them a lot more photogenic than the same scene in summer. After all, rule number one in landscape photography is simplify. You have to cut a scene down to its most basic elements and eliminate those distractions so you get fluid lines, a fluid path through the scene. But when you have something intruding on that snowy landscape that's not covered in snow, then it absolutely becomes a very challenging scene to control."
Though he enjoys getting an early start on the season even if it means fighting with some of those intruding elements, Adamus is also unafraid of midwinter treks through the heart of the backcountry. This requires special preparation, but clearly his portfolio proves that the challenge is worth it.
"There's nothing I love more than a good long extended hike way out there in the winter," Adamus says. "Whatever landscape you're going to be visiting, it's like being the first person to ever see that landscape. The snow conditions have such a huge role in photography, and the snow conditions are ever-changing, so you never know exactly what that landscape is going to look like. I love that."
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