My Adventures In Photography

A while back I started a photography column for my hometown's local newspaper — you'll find all of my columns from those pages here as well as new ones that I write.

To see all of my blog posts to date, click here.

Seeking beauty in desolation

 FRESH SNOW: Snowfall, while... sigh, freezing cold — is really beautiful at times. Getting a proper exposure can be tricky, but worth the effort.

FRESH SNOW: Snowfall, while... sigh, freezing cold — is really beautiful at times. Getting a proper exposure can be tricky, but worth the effort.

I would say that the headline above is an over exaggeration, but we Michiganders know that it really isn’t.

Winter sucks. I hate it.

Give me a free trip to Florida and I’ll go in a heart beat.

There’s just not much to do in winter unless you love and adore snow (like some people I know ... you know who you are. Dork.)

However, there are plenty of opportunities for photographers in this barren wasteland we call home. Taking photographs of snow can be difficult because there’s a lot — A LOT — of the white stuff that fills the camera’s frame.

Your camera’s light meter can misinterpret the scene as being too bright and underexpose the photo, which can be fixed in post processing, or your camera can do something quite cruel and overexpose the scene.

So what’s a photog to do?

Well, knowing how to shoot manually helps of course. So the real trick to making your photos turn out properly in winter is just to play with exposure. Take a photo and see how it turns out on your camera’s LCD screen. If there are too many highlights, underexpose the photo a bit. If the photo is too dark, overexpose it. It’s a guess-and-check process.

A useful feature on DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras, is the ability to have your LCD screen show you the areas of a photo that are blown out (overexposed). If you turn this feature on, any areas that are too white (meaning that there are no colored pixels in that area) will blink black. It’s a nice option to use so you don’t have any surprises when you get your photos on a computer.

OK, exposure is one thing ... but sometimes scenes are just plain boring to look at. The photo for this post was taken on a partly cloudy day, but the trees really make the shot. These are the shots when winter really shines and you can appreciate the snow’s aesthetics.

But what about the days when it’s cloudy and you’re looking at bare trees and a sickeningly boring scene?

Look for areas of contrast. Snow is bright, trees are dark; gray days will make you look for contrast.

Sometimes in order to get a better photo you’ll have to get closer. Take a close up shot of some snow on a branch or fern. Look for birds and zoom in. Take a shot by the water.

It can be a challenge to get good photos, but sometimes the fun is in the challenge.