Friday, February 14, 2014

Winter Blues

Winter is not always kind to the nature photographer. Either the frigid north winds hound us, bringing ice, snow, and difficulties to our craft, or we find ourselves alone, cameras without subjects. Living in the south, it is the latter problem I suffer from. Once spring fades, insects die or hibernate, flowers wither, birds fly south, and mammals seek shelter in their burrows. In short, all of my favorite subjects suddenly turn up missing. So what's a photographer to do?

There are overall three keys to a good photograph: good subject, good composition, and good lighting. In the winter, if you do not have access to dramatic snowscapes, it can be difficult to find a "good" subject. After all, who really wants to take photos of dead leaves? To give some visual CPR to your lifeless subjects, dramatic lighting and sharp compositions are essential.

In both of these examples, dramatic backlighting perks up static images of dead leaves.

Mood is another consideration. Winter swathes everything in a subdued, nearly monochromatic palette. A good photograph might exploit this tone to create evocative works, expressing peace, loneliness, or beauty.

Placed against grayscale backgrounds, even "dull" colors, such as the brown in the above photograph, suddenly become vivid in comparison. The empty seed pod above almost glows with life in relation to the bland background. Again, composition is pivotal here in ensuring the photograph creates impact. The branch leads the viewer's eye upward toward the lone splotch of color in the frame. As a result, movement is created, and even a photograph of a dead plant becomes eye-catching.

Want more tips on composition? Check out my post here for some brief pointers!

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So what do you think? Is it worth it to brave the cold for photographs or is winter better spent hibernating? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Great captures! I like the delight veins on the back lit leaf!

  2. You offer some wonderful tips for taking photographs during the winter months! Lovely, delicate photographs featured in this terrific post!