Tag: Snow

Shooting Frost, Snow and Ice


Dreamy Beech by The River

As much as I would like to shot winter scenes, the weather in west Michigan doesn’t always cooperate. We get a lot to dark cloudy days in winter which makes for flat lighting without a lot of contrast or definition in the photos. This can especially be problematic for landscapes. Some days it pays to be at a location when there are breaks in the clouds to highlight subjects, like the Grand Have Light house in one of the accompanying photos. The dark sky can make for a more dramatic image or the dark, hazy light might just give or a dreamy, mythical look to the swans flying away from you. If you are shooting ducks for color and identification, good luck. Sometimes this dark, flat light can work for you. Case in point is the image I’ve titled “Dreamy Beech by The River”. This photo was taken late in the day, within an hour or so of sunset while it was snowing quit heavily. The low light works here.

Hoar frost

On a couple of days last week, we had cold nights in the single digits for temperatures and some sun in the mornings. The cold nights made what is known as Hoar Frost. This is beautiful in the mornings when it turns trees and weeds white and the sun shines on them. The problem is getting out early enough to shot before the sun and wind start to take the frost away. I have added a few photos here of the Hoar Frost to show the wonderful crystals that make up this phenomenon. When you photograph with a macro lens or look closely, the ice crystals are actually clear and very detailed geometric shapes. The crystals protrude outward, attached on one edge and protruding like a shelf of delicate ice. Dress warm and be ready to move slowly to get these photos and enjoy the beauty.

Snowy Field

Proper exposure with snow photos can be difficult and results unsatisfactory sometimes at best. While blue snow or blown out snow or ice is a common problem with winter photos, it doesn’t have to be. All of the accompanying photos were shot in full manual mode and white balance set to “Auto White Balance” on the camera. The f stops were in the middle to low ranges, which lets more light into the camera.

Even though it can be along cold winter, we can still shoot photos. It was enjoyable to get the macro lens out and shot ice and frost and then move on to plants as found in winter.

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Winter Wonderland

Karner Blue Preserve

Karner Blue Preserve

Now that winter is finally here, get out and enjoy the beauty that comes with the cold. Birds are now easier to see close as the temperatures drop and the snows come. My bird feeders are now very active with a large number of birds. If you are looking for water fowl, try around the piers on Lake Michigan as they are congregating by the dozens or hundreds in the calm open water just past the ice. Be extremely careful as the piers are covered in ice and don’t venture out on the ice piles as they are always to be considered unsafe to be on.

St Joe Light

St Joe Light Covered in Ice

The recent days of wind have left some interesting ice formations and covered everything in a layer of ice along the lake shore. The lake effect snows have also blanketed trees in a winter wonderland of snow.

Great-Horned Owls will be beginning to nest at any time now. If you live near a wooded area you may want to listen for them after dark in the evenings. Remember if you feed the birds; don’t stop during the cold snowy weather as they become dependent on the food source once you start. Watch for unusual or rare winter visitors at your feeders.  The Redpolls and others are always a welcome site this time of year.

Get and enjoy the beauty before it is gone. Local parks are great places to see the snow covered trees and look of birds or drive to one of the beaches along Lake Michigan to see what the wind and waves can do. If you are extremely brave you could kayak as I saw someone doing in St. Joe. For the rest of us snowshoes or cross country skis are a great way to get out.

And don’t forget to dress warm!

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