Since my previous post, central Ohio has continued to experience winter weather, and for the month of December 2012 we received 13.2 inches of snow, which is more than we got for the entire winter last year! A lot of people around here don’t like winter, but personally I love it. When it snows, an otherwise drab and barren landscape is turned into something special with all kinds of photographic possibilities, so I get the camera out and hit the trails!
The image above was taken last Saturday (12/29/2012) and is of the footbridge over Old Man’s Creek by Lower Falls at the very southern end of Old Man’s Cave gorge in Hocking Hills State Park. Most of Ohio received at least 3 inches of snow the previous day so I planned to take advantage of the snow cover and photograph in the gorge. I arrived at the gorge parking lot just after sunrise and was excited to find that I had the whole place to myself. It was cold, but quiet and peaceful and there were no other footprints in the snow…a rare occurrence in a popular place like Old Man’s Cave Gorge. The new fallen snow clung to all the trees, rocks and plants, making the gorge an even more beautiful place. As I passed through the gorge, icicles were forming everywhere from the slow constant trickle of snowmelt. In a few weeks, the icicles will be several feet long so I’ll be returning soon for yet another winter nature show.
For the image of Lower Falls above, I used a polarizing filter to eliminate reflections from the surface of the water revealing the rocks underneath so I could include them in my composition. The polarizing filter also helped to saturate the color of the rocks and green foliage around the falls.
Winter photography can definitely be a challenge due to the cold temperatures, snow and ice so be prepared with the right clothing and equipment. Some winter photography tips to keep in mind:
- This may seem obvious, but dress warmly with layers and wear waterproof boots. Also buy “shooting gloves” which double as mittens and fingerless gloves, and don’t forget a hat!
- Make sure your camera batteries are fully charged, and carry a spare battery in an inside pocket to keep it warm. Batteries will lose their charge more quickly in cold temperatures.
- When taking your equipment from the cold into a warm car or house, it is very important to keep condensation from forming on your equipment, especially on (and inside) the camera body, lenses and filters. If it isn’t possible to let your equipment gradually warm up to room temperature, put your equipment in a plastic bag. Doing this will allow condensation to form on the inside of the plastic bag, and not on or inside your equipment.
- Your camera’s metering system is designed to make everything it sees mid-toned, and this can cause problems when shooting scenes with a lot of snow. Without some exposure compensation the snow will look gray. The easiest thing to do is to spot meter the snow and add about 1 to 1 ½ stops of exposure. This over exposure will ensure that the snow looks white, but it won’t over expose other objects in the scene. Use the camera’s histogram to help you determine if any more or less compensation is needed.
- Use a polarizing filter to help control/reduce reflections especially if a stream, lake, or waterfall is included in the scene.
- If possible, plan your photography for the so called “magic hour” of light around sunrise and sunset. The warm golden light at sunrise and sunset combined with the cold blue tones of snow and ice can produce magical effects.
- Think creatively:
- Look for interesting color contrasts. For example, red objects against white snow always look very strong. Frame your shot carefully.
- Less is often more so keep your composition clean and simple. Look for interesting trees, buildings, and other objects. Simple, clean objects like these framed against a white background of snow make very strong images.
- Think black and white – stark gray skies and snow covered objects can look very eerie and mysterious in a black and white image.
Winter is a great time for photography so be sure to get out there and take advantage of it!
You can see more of my photography of the Hocking Hills and Old Man’s Cave gorge in my Hocking Hills State Park gallery here.
If you have any questions about this website or my photography, I’d love to hear from you. Please click here to email me.