There are many ways to capture a great black and white image when it comes to landscapes, but one of my favorites has always been to use a long lens. Trying to capture everything you see in the viewfinder can lead to extra elements that might not be worth having but using a long lens can isolate good elements that are stronger. The treelines on the mountainside were far more important to me than the mountain itself which is why I used the 600f4 to isolate the trees.
There isn’t always a great deal of light showing, sometimes it’s just a spotlight. In the years I’ve lived in Bozeman I’ve noticed that there are plenty of times when we get cloud banks out to the west and you wouldn’t think there would be any light at sunset but then a hole opens up and just a sliver comes through and that’s enough to add some drama to the Bridger Mountains. This was one of those moments that I captured with the 200-400 VRII.
It still amazes me how some evenings in Bozeman the skies just erupt in color and after all the years I’ve lived here, those same skies can surprise me. I saw the little bit of light coming through to the east and figured it would be a dramatic night but you just never know by how much. With the Z50 and 16-50 f/3.5-f6.3, I walked up the lane towards the Bridgers and to my great surprise, the mountains were lit likely nothing else. This was just a simple click and then finished in Adobe Camera Raw.
How much snow is needed for a wonderland? It kind of amazes me how so many people haven’t experienced snow or haven’t had a snowy Christmas. In my little world, it’s a perfectly normal thing that occurs every year without fail. Sure, each year it’s different and the amount of snow that falls changes but for the most part it’s there. I guess the point I’m getting at is that it is important to take advantage of the snow opportunities as they present themselves because you never know what the next year will hold.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the winter, both indoors and outdoors, and I know that going out with the camera gear can be a little daunting. I mean you have to go out in the cold, leave the nice warm indoors, potentially get all your camera gear wet and who wants to do that? Well, there are some great opportunities in the snow but one of my favorite ones comes in between the storms. Snowstorms tend to have really dramatic clouds but then it’s also really dark so the drama can get lost. In between the storms can bring in new light which can make those storm clouds just pop not to mention the landscape.
With the increasing number of snowstorms throughout the state comes the multiple opportunities to make great black and white photographs. Snow acts as a wonderful element to add contrast to any image. Using a long lens is a great way to isolate any small pockets of light on the mountainside.
Fall is definitely here! The temps are dropping into the 40’s at night on a regular basis, rainstorms and snow in certain areas, and the days already feel shorter as the skies stay darker. With these days comes great opportunities. From wide-angle to close up the cloud formations allow for a lot of different options. This one stormy evening last year proved very fruitful as the small window of god beams came through the clouds lighting up the Bridger Mountains.
Photography is all about capturing those moments in time so we can go back and look at them. That’s why it’s important to take as many photos as possible so you can see the changes that are happening around you. From an environmental standpoint, every year you photograph landscapes or wildlife and then you go back and see those same areas or critters, you can see the changes that have occurred. Last year one important lesson I learned with the crazy weather system we had, was to go out more on the days that had terrible grey skies. I thought nothing would come from them but I learned that often times they would yield just a sliver of light and that sliver would be enough for a single image. Now I still go out to these same spots and still see the changes but every time I try to learn and improve on them.
I have spent many years chasing sunsets partly because I’m too darn lazy to get up for sunrises. I always tell myself to but I never seem to manage it. Over the years I have managed to come up with a few good spots to go for sunset to make up for these lack of early mornings. One of the things that I have learned is that Spring sunsets can be amazing here in Bozeman.
They aren’t what you would expect. The way the weather moves through the valley often only a sliver of light is left on the mountains to the east as the clouds cover everything else in the sky. This narrow opening out west lets in just enough light to make some magic happen. It’s like that single ray of light on a dreary day to make everything better.
It really does just take one image to make that whole time out with the camera worth while. When a storm is rolling through, dramatic clouds in every direction and the shots are plentiful then you know you have something good. But then they close up and that small window is gone leaving nothing but darkness, what do you do? You wait.
When it comes to working the clouds of a storm it’s a matter of hurry up and wait. You rush out to where you want to be standing and then you wait for that moment when the heavens open up. This particular evening it didn’t open up like I thought it would but what did happen was pretty amazing. With the D5 and 24-70 AF-S I blasted away. Everything from 24mm to 70mm to high speed crop I kept looking for that one shot. This one was close but still not quite it. In all honesty the only way to get the shot was a 360 because everywhere was dark except this one spot. That’s when it pays to be out with the camera.