Tuesday, December 1, 2015


It’s easy creating great artistic images outdoors at the peak of fall or when you get six inches of snow creating a soft blanket that can make a garbage dump look beautiful!  But, when the season is changing, at the very end of fall and the beginning of winter it can look very ugly when you look out the window and, seeing the temperature is 15º F, you say, “Nah, there’s nothing out there to photography—I’ll just stay here where it’s warm!” 

The advice I give my students is to NOT prejudge what’s possible without at least taking a walk outside; the walk will do you do anyway!  And, it’s not a quick look I’m suggesting—Many Photographers Look but Don’t See.  How do you see? I tell my students, especially when conditions outside are not perfect, “You See by Narrowing Your View”.  In other words, when the big view is ugly, crop-in and capture the details—look for smaller compositions.  

So, just make the point I went out in my neighborhood the day after our first snow.  We only got an inch of snow and most of it had already melted away, so I thought this would be challenging—You see, I prejudged my chances too!  I went out at NOON, it was sunny, and the temperature was up to 20º F. I went over to our development’s grassy common area where we have a two foot, galvanized, irrigation drain pipe that dumps into a rocky “french drain”. The rocks in this pond were embedded in a thin layer of ice. It didn’t look too promising from a distance. But, as I got closer and looked down I framed THIS in my viewfinder….
f7.1 @ 1/250 sec., ISO 400
I love that solitary leaf, mostly frozen in the ice, with its stem and a small portion, resting on the rock, in the only sunlight available, as if seeking solace from the advancing winter.

f8.0 @ 1/400 sec., IO 400
Three feet away I saw this marvelous pattern in the ice—a bird “frozen” in flight! I converted it to B&W so the color in the leaves around it would not distract from the illusion.

Here’s the less than idyllic scene of my ice vignettes. The first image was taken not two feet out of the mouth of the drainage pipe.

Next I walked to our other patch of common area, a block away, to check out what was left of the fall colors and that location’s snow…

Pretty sad—not much left from our first wimpy snow! So, armed with my 70-200mm lens (set at 200mm) I zoomed-in looking for details using the backlight from the low winter sun.

f5.0 @ 1/2000 sec., ISO 400
So, there I am on my knees and then on my stomach with this big lens on my camera and several neighbors drove by, slowing down, to see what the nutty photographer is taking pictures in this small, crappy, patch of snow!

 f6.3 # 1/1000 sec., ISO 400
The proof is in my images; you don’t have to travel to some pristine, exotic, location to create great nature images—check to your local area (your neighborhood!) and “Narrow Your View”.

That about wraps-up fall for my part of Idaho. I’m looking forward to more snow and hopefully some nice freezing fog!

“Till next week….make comments or ask me a question or two… look forward to your input…

Author:  Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman, Certified
Training site:  http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com

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