Winter is nearly over. We’ve had tons of rain and snow here in California’s Sierra Nevada that was desperately needed. I am hoping that one or two big snowstorms come to the Yosemite area before spring arrives. If you have a case of cabin fever this winter, give yourself the assignment of producing a winter portfolio of new images. Get out to your favorite local woods, lake or stream where you can often return in various weather and light. Working locally will give you many more opportunities to be out there after a fresh snowfall, or after a hard freeze when ice is everywhere. After all, it is only through practice that you will ready to make your next great photograph.
Back in February, we had a massive storm hit Yosemite and the central Sierra Nevada. I hear eight feet of snow fell at Tioga Pass, and ten feet at Mammoth Mountain. That was over 4-5 days. At my location of 2000 ft, we had 3-4 inches. I walked around my neighborhood, looking for new images.
A couple of years ago I wrote an essay for Outdoor Photographer called “Winter Etchings” about my love of winter for photographing the landscape. The essence of the article is that winter landscapes offer us wonderfully simplified subjects, be it bare trees or ice patterns or snow-covered scenes.
When photographing the strong graphics of the winter season, we learn to see and compose with the key design elements of a scene in any season. Attention to the graphic design of the image is just as significant as the light or weather. I observe carefully as I compose to see the spacing between objects, the rhythm of lines through the frame or areas of confusion/distraction along the edges of the frame and make adjustments/improvements in the field.
The images in the slideshow below were made within a few hundred yards of my house, with the impressionistic ICM [in-camera movement, “Winter Pines”] photograph taken from my driveway. The ice photo was made on my back patio. The winter oaks in my neighborhood have long attracted my camera, but on these recent walks, I found new subjects, even after nearly 20 years here. These discoveries point out a tenant that I hold dear: Beauty surrounds us every day, and to become better photographers, we must practice seeing and appreciating our surroundings daily. Not only will this improve our photographic vision, but it makes life more enjoyable, more positive.
Winter Pines, Ahwahnee, California, 2019.