Tag Archives: snow

Every morning…

… should ideally start with stumbling around on a hillside with the dog, falling into a bog (though I must add: the dog was smarter than that: he didn’t fall into the bog), and making photographs of snowy hills, then returning home and drinking hot coffee…

WINTER IS COMING!

Snowy tip of Ben Lomond

Snowy tip of Ben Lomond

Lochan by the Hill of Balgair, near Fintry

Lochan by the Hill of Balgair, near Fintry

Early morning sunlight falls on the Fintry Hills

Early morning sunlight falls on the Fintry Hills

A light dusting of snow in the Trossachs - and a promise of yet better weather to come!

A light dusting of snow in the Trossachs – and a promise of yet better weather to come!

Advertisements

In the snow

Here are a few images from an excursion into the snow early on Saturday morning.  I was going out to make one particular image (not shown here – it’ll come in due course), and made several others at the same time.  After what feels like a protracted break from making photos, I feel as if I’m discovering something new again.

This is probably my favourite image of the day, and perhaps the one that took longest to compose:

Just about alive

Just about alive

In contrast, these trees – large and small, though I suspect the little one on the far side of the water is much the same size as the near one! – seemed just perfectly placed in the landscape for me:

Trees, large and small

Trees, large and small

Other trees and bushes offered further insights into the tangle of life:

Branches 1

Branches 1

This seemed to be an invitation through the branches (that I didn’t take up; there’s another image of these branches here):

Branches 2

Branches 2

I’m busy writing something about ‘wild places’ for this website, and it’s helpful to be reminded that some of these apparently ‘wild places’ are not as wild as they might at first appear:

Branches 2

Branches 2

There is something magnificent about going through snow that others have not yet been through, even in a car – but I know where this road leads, and did not want to go up the hill and down the sharp bends in my wee car, especially as it is only a front wheel drive (given that accidents can easily happen, even to professionals with better vehicles)!  Still, it’s an enticing prospect:

The open road

The open road

 

Walking and photographing

Loch Carron Reservoir in the rain

Loch Carron Reservoir in the rain

Yesterday, my wife and I went for a walk along the Loch Carron Reservoir – probably about 13km.  It rained almost the entire time (hence the wet dog photo I posted yesterday evening), and was a thoroughly enjoyable walk.  It involved some ups and downs, but all rather gentle.  I had a digital camera with me, but aside from some images using my mobile, this was the only snapshot I made.  When out walking with others, snapshots are fine.  There isn’t much time to consider the careful detail of composition: to step backwards, to the side, back again, move around a tree, kneel down, walk back 100m to a better vantage point… the primary purpose of walking with other people is to walk with other people, not to make photographs.

Nonetheless, sometimes these can emerge too.  Two weeks ago today, I spent a weekend with Mike Colechin in the Cairngorms and Strathconon area, and on the Sunday we met with James and Yvonne Davidson and went for a walk up Carn Liath.  This was not, for me, a gentle walk!

Yvonne and James - and a fair bit of spindrift atop Carn Liath

Yvonne and James – and a fair bit of spindrift atop Carn Liath

I am not as fit as I thought I was after moving house in November and not doing much photography (and therefore walking up hillsides), but my walking companions were generous and supportive, and ensured I made it without too much difficulty – warm thanks to them!!

Mike, James and Yvonne

Mike, James and Yvonne

The conditions on top were a bit wild, as can be seen from how well wrapped up we were, but I did try and make some images, some of which I stitched together in Photoshop to produce a couple of panoramas.  As James remarked as we were looking north over the mountain tops, ‘why not photograph something as beautiful as that?’  Indeed.  For me, the panoramas represent some of the sense of vastness and breadth I experienced whilst there.  The first image is simply of an ice pattern on the ground:

Carn Liath

Carn Liath

Carn Liath, looking south

Carn Liath, looking south

Carn Liath, looking north

Carn Liath, looking north

Carn Liath, looking north

Carn Liath, looking north

Carn Liath, descending to Mar Lodge

Carn Liath, descending to Mar Lodge

James wrote in his blog posting from that day: ‘some of the greatest rewards will come to you if you push yourself, force yourself out of your comfort zone and try it. It may not work out but you can learn from the experience and congratulate yourself for making the effort.’ Well, getting up the hill and down again worked out (in no small part thanks to my gracious companions!), and I was delighted to have done it – but I will make sure I spend more time outdoors now and get a bit fitter again! 🙂

(Oh, and I will shortly have my large format images from that weekend available here too.  Not from Carn Liath…!)

A wee thought on using different equipment

My family think that I have too much camera ‘stuff’ (I don’t dare ask them too often!) – and it doesn’t help if I say things like ‘but XYZ has so much more than I do…!’  Of course, I think I have appropriate amounts of ‘stuff’ for what I want to do… 🙂

But sometimes, I realise that there are certain pieces of equipment that I have but don’t use as much as I might (don’t tell the family!).  This morning I was out with my neighbour, Mabel Forsyth, wandering around Newhailes Estate in the snow.  I had my Nikon digital camera with me.  At times, it snowed whilst we were there, as this shows:

Snow at Newhailes Estate, Musselburgh

Snow at Newhailes Estate, Musselburgh

As we were returning to the car, the trees by the path caught our attention.  I thought I’d try something a bit different, and got the Lensbaby out.  I’ve had this lens for a while, but I am weary of all the contrived flower shots – it’s art, don’t you know?! – that so many people use Lensbaby optics for (I caricature, but not by much), and that puts me off getting it out too often.  I should not be swayed by that, I know.  This is the Lensbaby image from this morning that I like most:

The (Lensbaby) snow storm

The (Lensbaby) snow storm

Processing has been minor: small changes to tones and curves, and other than that it has been cropped to a more pleasing 4×5 ratio, and turned clockwise by 90 degrees.  As will be obvious from the first image, we were not in a snow storm (the snow was rather gentle!), but for me this second rather more abstract image communicates something more about the dynamic of snow coming down than the first one, and I rather like it.

So now I can prove to my family that some of that ‘stuff’ can be used to create nice abstract images… 😉

———–

PS My favourite image from this morning’s excursion is this one, that I put up on my other site earlier today:

Newhailes Estate, Musselburgh

Newhailes Estate, Musselburgh

Relaxing in the sun

Ngoni relaxing in the winter sun

Ngoni relaxing in the winter sun

I’m not going to create a new blog entry for every image of Ngoni that I process, but this is one of my favourites!  There is something rather mad about being out in the snow in a bikini, but she continually assured me she wasn’t too cold (I was in my thermals, standing in the stream to capture this!).  Before you think I’m a sadist who enjoys inflicting cold on my models, one thing you can’t see is that Ngoni is not really sitting in the snow, but on a hot water bottle wrapped in a white cotton bag – her bum and thighs were probably the only part of her that was really warm!  I’m beginning to put together some images for a little gallery here, but in the meantime I thought it might be interesting to describe a little some of the processes behind making this image.

Trying to capture her naked skin against the mass of white snow was not completely straightforward, partly because (for the camera, at least), the snow dominates the scene.  The camera’s white balance (set to ‘shadow’) still managed to make everything look rather blue, and the snow overwhelmed the camera’s meter, even though I metered for her face (in camera, I didn’t use a lightmeter as I was trying to be as fast as I could to prevent her from getting too cold!  Key settings were ISO400, f4.2, 1/60s, the aperture being designed to create a relatively shallow depth of field).  But because the camera struggled a bit with the dynamic range, along with correcting the white balance and other general edits in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, I needed to carry out some editing just on her body, and others just on the background, involving a tedious selection process (Photoshop’s magic wand etc. found itself being rather confused by the white bikini and the snow, and Ngoni’s legs and the bridge, making a totally manual selection necessary).  Still, this allowed very precise edits to be made for Ngoni and the environment.

Also, although she is, of course, the main feature of this photograph, she occupies a relatively small portion of the overall scene.  I felt that her rather pale makeup, which worked so well in the other shots from the day, got a bit lost here, so I made some adjustments to her makeup as well, which in the small image here is most noticeable in the form of much darker ‘lipstick’ being used.

Photographing Ngoni Namate (in the snow…)

Ngoni in the snow

Ngoni in the snow

I had the great pleasure of photographing a new (to me) model yesterday: the fabulous Ngoni Namate.  When we first met a few weeks ago to talk about possible shoots sometime during the next few months, she mentioned that she would really like some photographs in the snow, were it to snow at some point soon…

Well, providing snow pretty much anywhere in northern Europe is currently not such a big problem!  So we met yesterday, and she spent much of the day in gorgeous dresses in the woods – and she even managed not to freeze to death (for those who wonder what it is about ‘my’ models being cold… no, no, no, it’s just a coincidence, honest!).  This is one of the (unprocessed) snapshots of Ngoni from the day – proper edited images to come once I’ve had a bit of time to go through them (not 15 months for most of them!).

In anticipation of a strange experience

My last posting was before Christmas, about how to photograph the snow. Since then I have been out taking photographs in Dalkeith Country Park in the snow, and also spent several days in the north of Scotland, where there was a lot of snow to photograph.

But since coming back from up north I’ve been very busy with work-stuff and have had no time to edit any images at all, let alone put them online.  On Friday, I travel for work to Jerusalem, and so I anticipate using my flights to work on some of the images.  This means I might finally post some of my winter snow images online when I’m in a climate that is currently experiencing a mini-heatwave – 18-21 degrees are forecast for the weekend!  Even the thought of doing this seems strange.

And I’ll be in the Middle East for nearly 3 weeks, so my winter images will include sudden climactic changes… before reverting to Scotland’s February cold (I’m anticipating that!)…