Winter Photos… Sans The Snow (Part Two)

Icicle, originally uploaded by foolscircle.

Photo Details:
Camera: Nikon D80
F-Stop: f/29
Focal Length: 120 mm
Exposure Bias: —
Shutter Speed: 1/200
ISO: 100

As I’ve said before, taking winter photos is a pain when you don’t have any snow to work with. My last post discussed how I finally captured a couple of interesting shots down at Donner Lake, which is near my family’s house in Truckee, CA.

The weekend before that, I simply decided to walk around our house and see what kind of wintry photos I could snag without going ambling more than 25 feet away from the building. I started out on our front deck, where a couple of sizable icicles were hanging off the roof. The main problem with photographing icicles is that they often can amplify or distort the background; this can prove to be really problematic when you just want to capture and highlight the textures of the watery stalactites. Since I was shooting photos on a sunny afternoon, I was getting a lot of colors in the background which prevented the icicles from becoming the real focus of my photos.

The solution, I realized, was easy to accomplish by doing two things: pushing up the F-stop on my camera to a rather absurd number and using my speedlight to illuminate the ice in a way which a regular flash couldn’t. I’ve often found that even in the brightest environments, putting the F-stop higher than 25 will obscure just about anything that isn’t directly illuminated by a flash of some sort. When you take a speedlight on a remote cable and set it at an interesting angle, the resulting play of shadows and light can often prove to be really dramatic.

For the above picture, I placed my speedlight directly beneath the icicle (seriously, it was about an inch outside of the camera’s field of vision) and snapped a couple of pictures. Once I’d adjusted the distance so that the actual light flash wasn’t visible, I really liked how this technique made the ice look like it was lit from within.

The other photos in this entry were from behind the house: two different pine cones I found from two entirely different angles. Neither picture was lit with a flash, nor was the ISO any higher than 100. The black and white picture was taken just beneath our deck, which provided for a rather soft light and didn’t create any harsh shadows on the cone’s exterior. I managed to snap the other picture off right when a cloud blocked out the sun and the shadows on the pine cone were suddenly a lot less extreme.

Now, if we can just get some actual snowfall, hopefully I can capture some traditional winter images.

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Explore posts in the same categories: nature, Photography, winter

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