Posted tagged ‘snow’

Snow, snow, quick, quick, snow!

December 2, 2010

The winter weather has come early to the UK, but instead of  hiding away inside in the warm, treat it as a chance to take some stunning winter images.  As long as you keep yourself safe, (no walking on icy lakes), and keep your camera as warm as you can, it’s a great time for creative photography.  You’ll also see things that you never see the rest of the year.

"Frosty windscreen" by Derek Gale

A frosty car windscreen is a perfect example.  I’ve used a 50mm macro lens from inside the car (out of the wind!), and made sure the background was dark to give better contrast.  These ice crystals are a pain to shift when you want to drive, but are simply beautiful to photograph.  Their fractal character means they look like feathers, or ferns.

"Icicle" by Derek Gale

Icicles are excellent photographic subjects.  This one, at the base of a wind turbine, seemed to be not very bothered about which direction it grew in.  It only started to point downwards near its end.  Again I needed to control the background to make the icicle stand out.  The out-of-shot sky was blue, which gave blueness to the shadows, and gave a very cool feel to the image.

"Snow shadows" by Derek Gale

Snow images often benefit by being turned into black & white.  I loved the way the winter sun formed long shadows across the snow by the table.  The low early morning sun really picked out the snow’s textures, and the black & white conversion simplified the image.  My high viewpoint helped to give a strong, simple composition.  As with most snow pictures I needed to give some positive Exposure Compensation so the snow came out white, and not grey.

"Trees in snow" by Derek Gale

For most of the year the ground under these trees is mostly brown.  This means that the colour contrast between the trees and the ground is quite low.  The snow on the ground changed all that, and allowed a pattern picture with a contrasting foreground.  The trees’ shadows gave more contrast and texture to the snow.  I cropped it into a vertical letterbox to accentuate the trees’ shapes.

"Birdtracks" by Derek Gale

Although a lot of the time it’s quite hard to see birds, the snow lets you see where they have been.  This bird has walked, not hopped, and left a great trail running diagonally across the image.  I’ve dropped down to get the best angle, and focused on the nearest track.  I let the other tracks go out of focus, into the darker area. Control of focus is a powerful compositional tool for photographers.

As you can see the winter weather is a great aid to your photography.  Wrap up warm, and use all that reflected light creatively!




Whiter than white.

January 12, 2010

The snow in Britain has been great for photographers wanting to try some creative photography!   All of a sudden there’s lots more light about as the snow acts as a giant reflector, filling in shadow detail.  Snow builds up on familiar objects, such as this wire fence, makes them look unfamiliar, and produces interesting patterns. 

"Wire fence and snow" by Gale Photography

"Wire fence and snow" by Gale Photography

The snow can also make a sharp object into something much softer, as can be seen in this shot of the razor wire on top of the Defence Academy fence! 

"Razor wire and snow" by Gale Photography

"Razor wire and snow" by Gale Photography

With the sun out, all that light bouncing around on the snowy landscape can make getting the correct exposure a bit challenging.  One of the turbines of the Westmill Wind Farm standing in a snowy field definitely looked worth the effort – even though it was bitterly cold walking to it in order to photograph it.  I’d forgotten just how hard it is to walk in 8 inches of snow!  

"Westmill Wind Farm No. 5" by Gale Photography

"Westmill Wind Farm No. 5" by Gale Photography

I used a polarising filter to intensify the blue of the sky.  As it was very windy, and the turbine blades were rotating quite fast, I used the high-speed continuous drive to make sure I got an image with the blades in the right place.  Sure is a good way to fill up a memory card! 

The sun is very useful because it melts the snow and, if the air temperature is below freezing, this can lead to icicles forming.  Like many transparent things, they benefit from a bit of back/side lighting. 

"Icicles" by Gale Photography

"Icicles" by Gale Photography

Here I’ve had to push myself against a wall so I could shoot them from behind against the blue sky.  The sun is low down off to the right.  I’ve cropped it vertically to accentuate the shape of the icicle. 

Whilst out taking these shots, I had the camera inside my jacket to keep it warm.  This improves battery life, and reduces the risk of condensation forming on the camera when it’s taken back into the house.

Finally, don’t put your camera away when the daylight ends.  You can take long exposure images of snowy scenes, which can be very moody.

"Twilight snow scene" by Gale Photography

"Twilight snow scene" by Gale Photography

Here the tungsten light on the building has made a nice warm-coloured patch of light on the snow.  This contrasts with the overall blueness of the rest of the image.

If these images have whetted your appetite, why not get out there and take some yourselves before it all melts?

If you would like to know more about creative photography, we still have some spaces on our “The Creative Eye” course on February 20th.  For details go to our website at