Is The Glass Half Full or Half Empty ?
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For this week’s blog we tackle the subject of preparing for winter conditions when it comes to photography.No matter where in the world you are there is someone who has encountered more then there share of snow and can relate to this story. I took a short trip last month to Vancouver, Canada to catch up with family living there. I always love going to Vancouver in wintertime for its accessibility and close proximity to the mountains. But I know that to return with rewarding images I need to be ready for any type of weather. Local mountains always seem to get a consistent base of snow that provides many different types of winter scenes but nothing beats fresh snow on a sunny day. I try to time my visits in accordance with this. This is when great images can be achieved, as the fresh snow on trees and the sun illuminating the textures of snow capture the essence of winter at its best. However, my recent trip to Vancouver was not so favorable in terms of seeing any sun. The relentless falling of snow continued for the duration of my trip and I had to readjust my thinking of what I was going to capture. I had to make the most of what was provided and the weather was not going to do me any favors. So I took advantage of lower elevation snowfall that covered the city in snow by shooting around English Bay in Vancouver. Also, nestled amongst the cityscape of Vancouver is the urban Stanley Park that hosts many stunning frozen lakes in the winter time such as Beaver Lake.
When making adventure trips in winter, I leave myself time to always go for adventures along the way to my destination. I expect the unexpected and always prepare to stay longer due to unforeseeable circumstances. Once in the city of Vancouver you are within an hour of local provincial parks and ski resorts that provide plenty of snow. Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort is within a half’s day driving distance and is arguably the best ski resort in America. This is where you can spend days in the back country snowshoeing without seeing anybody. This type of solitude is what I search for as a photographer to get in touch with my subject.
Winter photography can be difficult at times but the opportunity to be in nature without the distractions of others can be a blessing. The absence of people means I can take the time to find something I happy with compositionally. I like to explore at first without my camera looking for a potentials spots. I then use my camera to view these possibilities through the lens. The important thing is I do not rush things or choose the first thing I come upon. In fact, I encourage photographers to arrive a couple of hours early to find something that adds to the subject of the image. For example, it’s nice to capture a mountain peak with first light on it but if I can find a foreground that guides the viewer to that mountain peak then I can add visual depth as well. I look for things that frame the mountain peak, or leading lines in the snow such as ripples. I then consider where the light and shadows might fall in the scene and whether that helps or hinders the image.
All of these variables need to be considered when attempting to shoot in winter conditions. Dramatic changes in weather are part of winter adventures and learning to adapt and make the most of the situation is what breeds success when it comes to winter photography.