Photographing In The Snow

While out in the tetons on our photography workshop, it snowed.  Then it snowed some more.  After that, it snowed a little more.  Over about a two and a half day period it snowed over 30".  So, we got our fair share of photographing while it was snowing.  If you didn't mind standing outside and getting snowed on, there were a lot of photographic opportunities to be had.  Wildlife was the biggest of those opportunities.

You encounter a few problems when photographing in the falling snow.  Depending upon the amount of snow falling in between you and your subject it can cause your autofocus system to get confused. It can also create a layer of "haze" between you and your subject.  The first one you can deal with in a few ways.  You can just use your autofocus system and hope it is smart enough to figure it out, which might cause you some lost shots, or you can simply switch to manual focus.  The problem with autofocus is it's going to, sooner or later, decide to focus on falling snow instead of your subject.  There is almost a guarantee this will happen when your subject is doing something super interesting, or has moved to a nicer background ;)  The second problem..haze.  It can't really be fixed, but can be helped out a bit by using the "dehaze" slider in Adobe Lightroom CC.  This slider is pretty much magic and can knock down that haze in your image by a great deal.

Aperture-priority, 1/1,250 sec, f/8, ISO 800, Compensation: +1, 150 mm

Hover over the image to see camera settings.  Click the image to view it larger.

This is one of the moose that came to hang out with us at the ranch.  There were three of them.  They showed up everyday.  Usually, when the ranch fed the horses, the moose showed up there to "share" breakfast with them.

This image was made using my Nikon D500 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens.

Along The Gros Ventre River

During this trip to the tetons, I saw more moose than I've ever seen there.  Of course, the ranch we were staying on had about three that would come in every morning, many times, right by our cabin.  Aside from the "ranch moose" we saw several many more, mostly along The Gros Ventre River.

This image was taken on my first evening in the tetons.  It had been been cold and grey the biggest part of the day, but for a brief second that evening the sun was attempting to break through the clouds to put a little touch of warm light on things.

Aperture-priority, 1/800 sec, f/8, ISO 800, Compensation: +1, 180mm

Hover over the image to see my camera settings.  Click the image to view it larger.

Moose are very large animals.  This means you do not generally have to be very close to them in order to fill the frame with their large bodies.  The 25 yard limit imposed by the park service is more then enough.  Often times, 25 yards is too close.  However, in this case, I wanted to give you more of a look at the moose's environment.  I wanted to include things like the river, the frozen willows, the warm light on the river and willows, all the snow and leave enough room in the composition for the moose to "move" into.  Instead of zooming to 600mm to fill the frame with the moose, I shot this at 180mm to include the moose and it's surroundings.

This image was made using my Nikon D500 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens.

Majestic Moose

These moose shots were taken a few months back during my trip to Grand Teton National Park.  

According to park rules, you are allowed to be within 25 yards of any animal that isn't a bear or wolf.  These moose are gigantic animals.  They look really docile, but I'm guessing if they get pissed, I don't want to be 25 yards away.  Their legs are as long as my body, so I'm guessing I can't outrun, I'm there is that.

I would guess we were about 30-40 yards from this guy.  He was in a river valley and we were standing above him looking down.  Using a lens like the Tamron 150-600mm Lens and getting as low of a perspective as I could enabled me to get a shot that looks like I was looking directly in his eyes.  One of the best things you can do to improve your wildlife photography is to get eye level with your subject.  It connects the viewer to the critter in the image and is simply more dramatic.

ISO 1250, 280mm, F/5.6 @ 1/400th second

This guy was getting his antlers and they are in velvet.  He had a few battle scars on his face, too.  You can see those in this profile shot below.

ISO 1250, 180mm, F/5.6 @ 1/640th second

If you hover your mouse over the images, it will show you my camera settings for these shots.  You'll notice I was at ISO 1250.  Anytime I am shooting wildlife, I usually start at ISO 800 and go up if I need to increase my shutter speed.  Since these critters move, I like to keep a fairly "quick" shutter speed.

This is in stark contrast to the landscape & scenic images I post, where I want the ISO as low as I can get it.  Doing this type of wildlife photography the shutter speed is more important than the ISO, and even digital cameras a few years old have no problems shooting ISOs up to 1600.

These images were made with my Sony A77ii and Tamron 150-600mm Lens.