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1) Winter B&W Assignment
Photographer: Klaus Priebe
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark II with infrared modification for 820 nanometers, Canon EF 24-70mm ƒ/2.8L II USM, Gitzo 3541 tripod, Manfrotto 054 ballhead, remote shutter release
Capturing the San Juan Mountains in Colorado during winter had been on my bucket list for quite some time and I was just waiting for the right conditions. I always do research on the weather before I go to any particular location to shoot. In December 2012, there was just a fresh coating of about six inches of snow there, and the National Weather Service was calling for partly to mostly cloudy skies with a slight chance of snow that week. As with all of my monochrome images, this one was inspired by the work of Ansel Adams. I’ve always loved monochrome photography and my eye tends to see everything in that light. I love a colorful landscape, but there’s something to be said with the mood, light and substance that are contained in a monochrome image. The winter scene here, with the muted greens of the trees and colorless cloudy sky, really set off the instinct in me to capture it in monochrome infrared. It brings out many details and beauty the eye is unable to see. My processing was pretty basic in Adobe Camera Raw, with some levels and curves adjustments and some slight dodging in the shadow areas. After the ACR treatment, I processed the file with Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 and used the red filtration for the infrared file. I did a little contrast adjustment, amplified the blacks slightly and added about 7% on the structure slider. Then I opened the file in Photoshop CS5 and did the fine-tuning.
During the height of winter, as much of North America wrestled with biting cold, heavy snow, and in the case of the Southwest, sunny days in the 80s, I issued several temperature-themed Assignments at outdoorphotographer.com. Congratulations to Klaus Priebe, Miguel Costa and Perri Schelat for their winning photographs, which are on display here.
—Christopher Robinson, Editor
2) Warmth Assignment
Photographer: Miguel Costa
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 24-105mm ƒ/4L USM
This picture was taken in Angola, Africa, about 50 miles south of the capital city, Luanda, in July 2013. This beach is called Cabo Ledo, also known as Surfer’s Beach. It’s one of the few places near Luanda where you can find good surf. I was invited by a friend to go camping on the beach in this beautiful place. We hit the water to surf as soon as we got to the beach, but wave after wave, I started to realize the change in the colors of the sky and that the sunset could be a great one. As I saw the sun going down, I knew it would be a great composition to find a surfer walking to the point and catch her against the sun and the warm sky colors. So I came in and swapped out my surfboard for my camera. The only postprocessing I did was basic RAW processing with Adobe Camera Raw to bring up the colors just a little and to recover some highlight and shadow details that would have been lost in an 8-bit JPEG file out of the camera.
3) Bitter Cold Assignment
Photographer: Perri Schelat
Equipment: Nikon D3, AF-S Nikkor 17-35mm ƒ/2.8, Singh-Ray neutral polarizer, Nikon MC30 cable release, Gitzo GT 3542LS tripod, Kirk BH-1 ballhead
In the winter, Yellowstone is an ethereal and otherworldly wonderland, with unlimited photography opportunities. I was after specific winter scenes, and at the top of my list were ghost trees. I knew I would need frigid temperatures, so I chose a cold winter month with less snowfall, clearer skies and colder temperatures. I wanted steam or fog, as well, so I would need to head toward the geysers and thermal pools. On a clear morning with -10º temperatures in February 2013, I headed straight to the geyser basins and thermal areas. I found these evergreens at Norris Geyser Basin near a thermal pool. Steam from the pool drifted into the trees and covered them in frosty ice. There was no special postprocessing beyond lifting shadows, dodging, burning and basic RAW file conversion.