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- Landscape Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots
- Creative Landscapes: Digital Photography Tips and Techniques
- The Digital SLR Expert Landscapes
- The Landscape Photography Workshop
Although autumn is a glorious time for outdoor photography, winter can be equally attractive for those who live in a Northern climate. This morning for example, thick frost coated the trees outside my office window, transforming the world with a silvery shimmer. In mountainous areas, the snow-laden peaks contrast against azure blue skies, as skiers gather on the slopes for an exhilarating run in their colourful suits.
Mornings with fresh snow offer an appealing reason for getting out of bed to visit a nearby park or a favorite landscape. Dress warmly for comfort. Take a camera with a couple of zoom lenses and a Circular Polarizing filter and you'll be well equipped. (c) 2013 Peter K. Burian
Naturally, the photo opportunities differ from one region to another. Still, you can find great potential in any area with snow. Based on extensive experience with winter photography, I can offer the following tips to maximize the odds of getting beautiful images.
* Expose with care: Whenever a scene includes a great expanse of white, there's a risk that your images will be underexposed: too dark. After taking a photo, check it on the LCD monitor. If the snow is grey instead of white, set a +1 exposure compensation using the camera's [+/-] button and take the shot again. If the photo is still a bit too dark, set +1.3 or +1.5 compensation and take the shot again. (After you finish shooting snowy landscapes, reset the compensation control to zero).
* Aim for a "warm" effect: Except in the early morning and late afternoon on sunny days, the light tends to be "cool" (bluish) in winter. If you find that Auto White Balance (AWB) produces an effect that's not very pleasing, try setting Cloudy Day WB for a "warmer" (slightly amber) rendition and take the shot again. For an even richer overall colour balance, take the next photo using taking the Overcast Day WB option.
In order to avoid flat, dull, underexposed photos with a bluish tint in snow-covered scenes, take advantage of exposure and White Balance control. For optimal results, I made this photo using +2/3 exposure compensation and with Overcast Day White Balance. (c) 2013 Peter K. Burian
* Get richer photos: If your lens accepts filters, buy a Circular Polarizer. This accessory can enrich colours (including a blue sky) and reduce glare from snow so the texture will be more visible. A polarizer provides the greatest effect when the sun is at your side, so try to position yourself accordingly. Rotate the filter within its mount and watch the effect changing through a DSLR's viewfinder on in live view on the LCD monitor. When the effect is just right, take the photo.
An essential accessory in digital photography, a Circular Polarizing filter can wipe glare from reflective surfaces (including particles in the sky), helping to enrich colors and to retain some texture in the surface of snow. (c) 2013 Peter K. Burian
* Avoid Overexposure: The suggestions as to the amount of compensation are merely starting points and in some cases they'll produce overexposure. It's important to retain texture in snow so use as little exposure compensation as is necessary. Sometimes you'll find +2/3 (+0.67) compensation to be plenty for a pleasing exposure that retains texture in the snow. If the photo is very slightly underexposed, you can solve that minor problem with image editing software later.
* Use flash for people: For wide angle photos of friends posing against a snowy landscape, use flash to ensure that they'll be nice and bright. Pop the built-in flash up or attach an accessory flash unit and turn it on. To force your flash to fire in daylight, set the camera to the P mode instead of AUTO and set the flash mode to On. (The flash mode is usually selected with a button labelled with a lightning bolt icon.)
In addition to wide angle images, it's also worth looking for intimate scenes such as these berries covered with caps of snow. A telephoto zoom lens (such as a 70-300mm) works well for small subjects, allowing you to fill the frame and exclude unrelated elements. ( A Circular Polarizer helped to enrich the colors in this image). (c) 2013 Peter K. Burian
* Just Do It: After a warm breakfast this weekend, drive to your favourite waterfalls, river or landscape. Take advantage of the technical tips, add a bit of creativity to your compositions and you should come home with many beautiful winter photos.
Canadian stock photographer Peter Burian (www.peterkburian.com) is the author of several books including Mastering Digital Photography and Imaging as well as many Magic Lantern Guides to SLR cameras.
TEXT AND PHOTOS (c) 2013 PETER K. BURIAN