Metering Wildlife in the Snow, Part Two

Cougar

Cougar

Most wildlife are medium to dark in tone, making them a challenge to meter properly in the bright, white tones of winter. If you trust one of your camera’s automatic exposure modes, the odds are good you won’t get the best exposure. If you switch over to manual exposure and make the right decisions, you can get great exposures and better quality photos (more about that later).

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Metering Wildlife in the Snow, Part One

Elk in the Snow, Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk in the Snow, Horseshoe Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Metering dark toned wildlife in the snow is a major exposure challenge. It is usually best to avoid large “burned out” areas (washed out, featureless white) in a nature or landscape photograph, but with properly exposed snow, the wildlife can be so dark as to lose all texture. On other hand, metering for the wildlife can burn out the snow. So what do you do?

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“How To” Series: Winter Photography

Last Light on El Capitan, Yosemite National Park

Last Light on El Capitan, Yosemite National Park

In addition to all of the usual photographic challenges, winter provides some extra complications, especially in terms of metering. So I began my series of articles on winter photography. Check out the links below. The articles will help you meet the unique challenges of winter photography. So get out there, have fun, and create some great winter images!

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One Photographer and Nine Outdoor/Travel Writers Pick the Best Winter National Parks

Last Light on Long’s Peak and the Keyboard of the Winds, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

Each a winter I think about a photography trip to some U.S. national parks, some of which I haven’t been to before. I always need to narrow down my choices to fit the time I have for the trip. My search for information is what led to the advice in this article. After you read this article I recommend you also read the companion article: The Best National Parks to Photograph in Winter.

Originally posted January 17, 2017. Updated and re-posted January 3, 2018.

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The Best National Parks to Photograph in Winter

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Winter provides some wonderful photo opportunities in our national parks. So if you haven’t gone into hibernation for the winter, here are the best national parks to go photograph this winter, grouped by state from the west to the east. There are a few bonus locations thrown in too. At the end I give you my “best of the best” list.

Posted January 17, 2017. Updated and re-posted January 3, 2018.

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How to Find and Photograph Snowy Owls

Snowy Owl Sightings, January 2016

Snowy Owl Sightings, January 2016

Winter is your opportunity to photograph Snowy Owls. When it is cold enough and there is enough snow cover, snowy owl move down into the northern U.S. The colder it is the farther south they move. If conditions are right, don’t delay. If the winter turns warmer the snowy owls will head farther north.

This is the first in an ongoing series of articles on Snowy Owl photography. Originally posted January 25, 2016. Revised and re-posted Jan. 1, 2018.

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Snowy Owls in Colorado: Do it Now!

Snowy Owl sightings in the United States, December 2017.

Now is your chance to see and photograph snowy owls in Colorado. Don’t miss it. This is a rare opportunity. There was not a single snowy owl sighting reported in Colorado all of last winter. The map above shows snowy owl sightings for the month of December 2017. Snowy Owls like cold and snow. A 20 degree uptick in the temperature and the sightings could all end for this winter. Go now.

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The Best Scenic Photo Location Guides

Some of my favorite photo location guides.

Some of my favorite photo location guides.

“If you want to be a better photographer stand in front of more interesting stuff!” – Jim Richardson, National Geographic photographer.

A good scenic location guide can save you from wasting hours of precious time searching for the best spots at a new location. The best scenic locations guides are written by and for photographers. Photographers are much more in tune with what other photographers want to photograph. And for each location, photographers will tell you the best season of the year and the best time of day to get the best images. Some will give you additional photography advice for each location.

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Waterfalls and Artistic Shutter Speed Choices

Three different exposure combinations at Brandywine Falls, all of them cropped from larger images. Click for a larger version.

Another photographer and I were shooting together yesterday at Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga National Park. During the time we were there we saw dozens of people taking pictures of the waterfall. Most of them were in full auto-exposure mode, making no personal changes in their exposure settings whether they were photographing the waterfall, each other, or the leaves in the trees. I bet most of them had no idea that they had turned important artistic decisions over to a computer chip.

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POTD: Bull Elk, Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk, Horseshoe Park, Rocky Mountain National Park

Cars stopped in both directions as the big bull elk crossed the two lane paved road at the west end of Horseshoe Park. Their cars still sitting on the road, motors running, everyone was out of their cars and snapping photos with phones, small point and shoot cameras, and serious camera gear. It would have been hard not to get a great photo, even with a smart phone.

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Buying a Headlamp for Night Photography: The Essential Feature

Photographers with red headlamps. Field Trip, Sprague Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

A red headlamp is an essential tool for night photography. Before you rush out and buy one, make sure it has the most essential feature (other than the red LED). Some inexpensive headlamps have this feature and some very expensive ones don’t, so cost is not the issue.

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The Best National Parks for Fall Photography

Our National Parks

What are the best national parks to photograph in the fall? Here are my choices, grouped by state and province from west to east. This list includes the favorites I have been to, plus the ones I most want to see based on the recommendations of the photographers I trust, like Tim Fitzharris and QT Luong.

Originally posted September 14, 2017. Updated October 31, 2017.

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Two Photographers and Eleven Outdoor/Travel Writers Pick the Best National Parks for Fall

Long’s Peak and Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

Fall is a fabulous time of year to visit the national parks. Crowds are usually smaller than in the summer, temperatures are cooler, and some of our national parks have glorious fall colors. With so many to choose from, where should you go? Which national parks will provide the best photographic opportunities in the fall?

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Colorado Fall Color Travel Guide – 2017

Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake. Mid-morning. September 24, 2015.

Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake. Mid-morning. September 24, 2015.

Welcome to my Colorado fall color travel guide with over 100 pages of information (if you print it all out), 114 photos, and 17 maps. I cover some of the best known fall color locations in Colorado, and one real gem of a road that is mostly unknown to photographers and leaf peepers. Spend anywhere from a few days to three weeks exploring the beautiful Colorado Rockies at a gorgeous time of year.

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Colorado Fall Color Travel Guide – 2017

Mt. Sneffels from County Road 7 - Dallas Creek. October 3.

Mt. Sneffels and the Sneffels Range from County Road 7 (East Dallas Creek), Colorado. October 3, 2014.

The most recent update to this article is here.

Welcome to my Colorado fall color travel guide with 100 pages of information (if you print it all out), 109 photos, and 17 maps. I cover some of the best known fall color locations in Colorado, and one real gem of a road that is mostly unknown to photographers and leaf peepers. Spend anywhere from a few days to three weeks exploring the beautiful Colorado Rockies at a gorgeous time of year.

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The Best Scenic Photo Location Guides

Some of my favorite photo location guides.

Some of my favorite photo location guides.

“If you want to be a better photographer stand in front of more interesting stuff!”  – Jim Richardson, National Geographic photographer.

Looking for the best scenic locations to create beautiful images? You need good scenic locations guides written by and for photographers. Photographers are much more in tune with what other photographers want to photograph. And for each location, photographers will tell you the best season of the year and time of day to get the best photo.

Posted July 11, 2017. Updated Dec. 8, 2017.

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The Best Months to Photograph the Best National Parks

Parks Collage. Click for a larger version.

What are the best months to photograph our best national parks? Truth to be told, the best national parks can be photographed just about any time of the year. But parks do have some months when they are at their photographic best. So what are the prime months?  This park by park article is based on my own experiences as well as the advice of the photographers I most trust.

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The Best National Parks to Photograph in Spring

 Ocotillo. Big Bend National Park. Texas.

Ocotillo. Big Bend National Park, Texas.

If I could go on a fabulous spring photography trip to the national parks of my choice, with no time limit and all expenses paid, which ones would I pick? Here are my choices, grouped by state from west to east. This list includes the favorites I have been to and want to go back to again, plus the ones I haven’t seen and most want to photograph.

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