MERU is a stunning documentary film. I watched it last night and was blown away. Again. (It has been several years since I first saw it.) It will be on again Saturday, January 20, 2018 (details below).
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the United States. This is a 5 minute highlight from the end of the speech. A video of the whole 17 minute speech is here.
Just in case you missed this viral screen capture from the national championship football game, this is the 42 yard touchdown pass that gave Alabama the victory over Georgia. In other words this is the biggest play of the biggest game of the year. Whoever grabbed this screen capture off their TV circled the sideline photographers. I call this “shock and awe”. Their editors are probably calling this “missed photo”. It is hard to get the shot if your camera isn’t at your face, or even pointed at the play.
I grew up in Colorado where strange weather can strand you in any month of the year. Even though it is rare, I’ve seen blizzards in the Colorado high country in July. So I learned to carry some safety essentials when doing winter photography in remote locations. You never know when you might be stranded for several hours, a whole day, or longer, until the blizzard abates and someone can come find you. This is what I carry in my car pretty much year around and especially in the winter. I include a few winter travel tips, too.
You would think a windchill of 4° Fahrenheit (-16°C) would be too cold for a photo shoot, but not with some models. We booked this January shoot weeks in advance so we knew it would be cold, but we had no idea how cold until the day arrived. Here’s the story behind this image and how to work with a model when it is so cold.
The Sunny f16 rule is really useful on bright sunny days in the spring, summer, and fall, but you can’t rely on it on bright, snowy winter days. It will often lead you astray. There are much more accurate ways to meter in the winter.
The “snow exposure latitude” for every camera is different. You won’t find it in your camera’s manual but it is easy to determine with a do-it-yourself test. Why does it matter? If you don’t know the snow exposure latitude for your camera and how to apply apply it to your images, the color and quality of your winter photos will suffer.
Cold and snow can cause a lot of damage to your camera gear. Something as simple as shooting outside and taking your camera inside can cause hidden damage that won’t show up until days or weeks later. The simple steps in this article could save you hundreds of dollars in repair bills.
You can photograph the night sky year around, but winter brings an added bonus: SNOW! When you don’t have the benefit of moonlight, most of the year land forms a dark to black silhouetted skyline against the night sky. In winter you have the possibility of including the highly reflective snow. You can see both in this photo. Any place not covered with snow is very dark to black. Having reflective snow is why winter is the favorite time of year for a lot of photographers to go out and photograph the night sky.
Just like metering daytime winter scenes, the key to metering evening winter scenes is knowing what to meter and deciding how much exposure compensation to use.
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).
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?
The white snow in a winter scene can and often does fool a camera meter into underexposing a portrait, so here are the steps to take to get the right exposure. I throw in a few portrait suggestions too.
Metering for scenes with a lot of snow can be tricky since the bright snow fools the camera meter. I see a lot of winter photos with gray snow, which means the camera meter did exactly what it was designed to do. The solution is quite simple provided you know what to do.
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!
Setting a “Custom White Balance” at the beginning of a photo shoot will save you a lot of time. It will only take a minute or so and can save you a lot of work later on. Think how long it would take you to color correct 250 images.
Posted April 22, 2015. Revised and re-posted Jan. 5, 2018.
Most digital cameras give you a choice of several pre-set white balance settings (daylight, tungsten, cloudy, shade, and others), but they won’t give you the most accurate white balance in a mixed lighting situation. If you choose a pre-set, the colors in your images will be off.
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.
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.
If there are cold enough temperatures and plenty of snow cover on the ground, the northern United States has a winter invasion of Snowy Owls. These are magnificent creatures and well worth your photographic time and attention. This series is filled with tips on how to find and photograph snowy owls.
When I am traveling with my highly trained and high paid photographic assistant it is his job to remove trash barrels when they are in the way, cut down trees that spoil my view, run out into the meadow and scare off the cow elk that are in front of the bull elk I want to photograph, rip boards off of old barns that don’t look quite distressed enough, pull on the whiskers of a sleeping cougar to wake it up, and cut down utility lines that are obstructing a clear view of my subject. But he wasn’t with me on this trip due to sitting in jail over a minor incident in Yosemite. So I had a challenge on my hands that I had to solve myself.
I am kidding, of course. The prior paragraph was inspired by really crazy things a few photographers do but shouldn’t be doing.
A simple change of background can turn a disappointing wildlife photo into a great one. Professional wildlife photographers think about backgrounds all the time and do everything they can to improve the background. Less experienced wildlife photographers are so excited to find an interesting creature that they give the background precious little thought.
What is a Snowy Owl expedition really like? This article is your chance to find out. Join me for a two day photo safari! I give you tips and photo suggestions along the way, and you get to see how I prepare, plan, and adapt on a photo trip. This is also about what to do when things don’t go according to plan.
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.
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.
Good news! The recent really cold weather and new snow cover means snowy owls have moved farther south across the United States. This is just what you need if you want to photograph these magnificent creatures. They move farther south as the temperature drops and go back north as the temperature rises.
Snow glistens in the last light of dusk.
Distant clouds glow with the fading light from the sun, long since set.
Here is my list of “best of the best” of articles recommending the best photo gear, software, books, DVDs, calendars, online photo labs, and a whole lot more.
Originally posted Nov. 1, 2017. Most recent update: Dec. 20, 2017.