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.

Blue Hour at The Snake River Overlook

I enjoy shooting sunrises, but the time before sunrise and after sunset, known as blue hour, is another favorite time of day of mine to shoot.

On this particular morning I believe the temperature was somewhere around -20 degrees Fahrenheit.  It was very cold!  My camera and lens preformed flawlessly in the extreme temps.  The only issue was the cold zapping the batteries quickly.  I had plenty of spare batteries in preparation for this.  I also kept the spare batteries in my pocket, close to my body, in an effort to keep them as warm as possible.

Another exciting thing about this particular morning was the moon was setting behind the mountains about the same time the sun was rising.  We were hoping to get the moon setting with the sun hitting the mountain peaks, which we did ;) And I will share some of those at a later time.

Aperture-priority, 10 sec, f/16, ISO 100, Compensation: +1

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

This image was taken at The Snake River Overlook in Grand Teton National Park.  It was taken about 30 minutes before the sunrise time.  The image was made using my Nikon D500 and Tamron 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Lens.  The combo was resting atop my Sirui W-2204 tripod with Sirui G-20X Ballhead.

Schwabachers Landing

One of the most iconic spots in all of Grand Teton National Park is Schwabachers Landing.  

It is actually a boat landing used to gain access to the Snake River.  It is a popular wildlife viewing area, as well.  A quick, quarter of a mile walk from the parking lot leads you to the area seen in today's photograph.  This is one of the most popular photographic spots in the park.  And why not? You get the majestic mountains framed by evergreen trees on both sides and the still water reflects everything perfectly.  That being said, I've never been too fond of this shooting location.  Oddly enough, I think it photographs better from the parking area (this is just personal preference).  However, on the morning we were there, it really didn't matter where you photographed it from.  The light was pretty amazing that morning.  The clouds above and behind the mountains lit up very nicely and there was a nice cloud inversion in the valley, too. The water was still and gave a magnificent reflection of all of it.  It was tough to take a "bad" photograph on this morning.

Aperture Priority, 0.3 seconds, F/11, ISO 100, Exposure Compensation -2/3, 38mm

I recently read a discussion on Facebook about iconic, or popular photographic destinations.  The argument was more concerning the number of people that show up before sunrise at these locations.  Someone then said "I don't want to be that crowded to get the same shot millions of people have already.".  I myself am not a huge fan of the crowds, either, however I disagree with the "same shot as millions of people have already" part.  You can never take the same landscape photograph twice.  Simply cannot.  The light is always different, the clouds, wind, etc.  The location may be the same, but the images from day to day never are.  That's why photographers go to the same locations over and over.  I've shot the same scenes many, many times and always have different results.  The image above is now my favorite image from this particular location.

This image was made using my Canon 5D Mk III and Tamron 24-70mm Lens.  All resting atop my Sirui tripod and K-40X Ballhead.

More Falls in The Fall

Here's another shot from last week in The Great Smoky Mountains.  The color was really nice while I was there.  These kinds of photo opportunities were plentiful along Little River Road and in the Tremont Area.

ISO 100, 15mm, F/16 @ 2 seconds

When I came upon a scene like this I tried to take the same approach to most of them.  I was using my new Tamron 15-30mm Ultra Wide angle lens.  I knew I needed to find a foreground anchor, so I usually looked for an interesting flow of water or a rock.  A foreground anchor really helps add depth to your images.  If I chose a rock, sometimes it had a nice set of fallen leaves on it, sometimes I put some leaves on it. Once I had the foreground anchored, then I made sure my composition lead you through the image to the brilliant display of fall colors in the background.   

This image was made with my Sony A7R II, Metabones Lens Adapter and Tamron 15-30 F/2.8 Ultra Wide Angle Lens.  I can;t photograph water without a circular polarizer, so I had one of those, too.  All of my gear was resting atop my Sirui W-2204 Waterproof Tripod.

Bald River Falls

On the detour trip home from the Smoky Mountains, we got to swing by a little known place in Tennessee called Tellico Plains.  Although there are several places along the river in Tellico Plains to shoot and get great images, the main attraction is Bald River Falls.

Bald River Falls is a 90 foot waterfall.  It is easily viewed from a bridge that goes along Tellico River Road.  Some consider these falls to be the most impressive and scenic in all of East Tennessee.  I can certainly tell you it's worth the visit.  This was my third of fourth trip there but the first time during fall colors.  The colors did not disappoint! 

ISO 50, 30mm, F/22 @ 1 second

I made this image with my Sony A7R II, LA-EA3 Lens Adapter and Tamron 24-70mm F/2.8 Lens.  I also had my Marumi Ciruclar Polarizer on the front of my lens.  All mounted to my Sirui W-2204 Tripod, of course.

Tellico River

On my way back home from the Great Smoky Mountains the other day I took a detour to a little place in Tennessee called Tellico Plains.

Tellico Plains has a lot to offer in the fall.  The color here was better than any color I came across in the Smokies, there is a river with a ton of water shots to be had  here, a very nice waterfall, not near the crowds of people and it's near the Cherohala Skyway.

I went for a few things, to photograph the water and escape the madhouse that was the Smokies in the Fall.  I accomplished both with ease.

This shot was taken from the first bridge I crossed as I traveled along River Road.  I normally like to get right down at water level when I photograph these rivers but, in this case, I wanted to capture the vast amount of color that was surrounding the river.  That was much better done from the bridge itself.  Getting down on the river I would have had to shoot upwards to include more color and that would have included a lot more of the nasty, no-nothing sky.

However, the no-nothing sky was what made the day!  It was very overcast and even started raining a few times while I was there shooting.  The overcast skies made the colors pop.  The little bit of rain also helped with that, too.  Make sure you have your polarizer, though, to kill reflections from everything being wet.

ISO 100, 30mm, F/16 @ 1/3 second

I shot this image with my Sony A7R II, LA-EA3 Adapter and Tamron 24-70mm Lens.  I also used my Marumi Circular Polarizer to enhance contrast and eliminate reflections.  Of course I had my new favorite tripod, the Sirui W-2204.

A Couple of Updates

So, I've been on the road for the last few weeks without access to a computer.  Good news, though...I got some great shots and had a great time traveling for a week along the East Coast from Charleston, SC to St. Augustine, FL.

Tonight I will be giving a presentation at Huntsville Photographic Society and will we sharing many images from this trip!  This will be my second time presenting to this group.  If you are in the Huntsville, AL area and want to hang out with a genuine good group of folks and photographers, check them out.

In latest software news, On1 has updated their Perfect Photo Suite to version 9.5.  I have been using this software for the last few years and have grown to love it.  It is a very quick way to greatly enhance your images!  To check it out, or download a free trial, go to this link.

Speaking of Charleston...and On1...here's one of the images I managed to gt at a place called Dixie Plantation.  

ISO 400, 57mm, F/11 @ 1/6th second

I normally shoot a scene like this with an ISO as close to 100 as possible, however the wind this evening was causing the Spanish moss to blow around and blur quite a bit, so I raised my ISO until I got a "fast enough" shutter speed to prevent this.

I also processed this image in the new On1 Perfect Effects 9.5.  I used a preset called "Big Softy"  then added a filter to enhance the greens.  This software save me time and is pretty dang easy to use to boot!

Textures

A lot of the time I was walking around during our workshop in Apalachicola, I was looking for different textures to shoot.  I personally like images of texture, but I also may be able to do something else with these images down the road.  I may use these as texture overlays on some of my other images...you never know. ;)

Here are a few I took with my Canon 7D and Tamron 16-300mm Lens.  

Some of these items are tree trunks, rusty boats, chains, signs, etc.  I just simply zoomed in and got close to capture a certain portion of the texture I liked.  Shooting textures is a great way to get outside of your box, create images you can use for multiple purposes and it may even help you out of a creative funk.

Infrared Mountain Scene...from somewhere in the Tetons.

On this trip to the Tetons, I took a lot more gear than I've taken in the past.  One of those pieces of gear was my Canon 40D that was converted to infrared by Lifepixel

On our first day in Grand Teton National Park, we were pretty much just scouting and venturing around when we came across this scene.  I'm not sure we even knew where we were, but we did pass a sign that said something about Bridger-Teton National Forest...so I'm sure that's where we were...I'm sure of it.

This was a beautiful scene, and we knew it once we first came upon it.  There was a stream, great trees decorated with fall color, mountains, cows....how could it not be great?  Well, I wanted to capture it in a different way than I normally would, so I put my Tamron 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD Lens on that converted Canon 40D and fired off a few frames.  Since I was hand holding, and depth of field wan't an issue since everything was so far away, I went with an aperture setting of F/8.  I also bumped the ISO a tad to 400.  This gave me a shutter speed of 1/160th of a second.  Since it was shot at 60mm, and that lens was equipped with Tamron's VC Technology, I had no doubts I could hand hold and get a nice crisp image. 

There is a little bit of extra post processing that goes into getting these infrared RAW files to turn out looking like infrared shots, but I do believe the extra effort is worth it.

I really like how this image turned out, and I'm glad I shot it because I may not be able to find my way back to it! ;)