Yep, that’s about the size of Bozeman right now. While we usually get a cold snap every January, this February has been just one long cold month. It’s hard to get out and do stuff in this kind of weather, for even the nicest of days are often the coldest. Thankfully there is always something to do behind the scenes when it comes to photography.
Fall color is great but finding those days where the color pops without a grey sky sure are hard to find here in the Rockies. So what do you do? I struggle with this question a lot of times because the color of the trees is always so seductive but I know that having any sky will just suck. Even so I have to try and get something out of it. When I came upon this scene I actually wanted to pass it over but Alex stepped in and made it a little more interesting. The big thing that I found really helps in these scenarios is your exposure compensation. It was a dark day so pumping up the exposure comp made a huge difference. Beyond that trying to minimize the amount of sky in the composition also helps.
It’s so close I can feel the pixels ready to be burned. Fall coloring will happen soon and I can’t wait until it does. Every year becomes another challenge trying to make an image worth remembering that fall season. It overwhelms the senses, the color, the temps, the feeling that comes with end of each year.
When it comes to fall color it’s important if you’re working with a small section of foliage to have something dark behind the leaves so that those leaves pop. Now is a great time to be scouting and doing homework to find those great clumps of trees that will eventually turn into something splendid.
When it comes to working with wildlife every species deserves respect. Each one lives a life that we try to understand but we truly can’t since critters can’t talk to us with words, only body language and sounds. As photographers it is our jobs to interpret theses signals and acknowledge them. Well aquatic species are no different, in fact they are even more fragile and deserve that much more respect.
The best way to work with these species is with an underwater housing but most of us don’t have that so we do the next best thing which is to take the subject out of the water. This is hard on any fish species because they don’t have lungs. They breath through their gills. This means that there is very little time when they are removed from the water. Right now in Montana Hoot Owl restrictions have started on some of the rivers which means it’s even more imperative to get the pictures done fast so that every subject is safe.
This is actually a real thing. Last I week I was teaching at Photoshop World and I had a great time. Thank you to all that came out and attended the event. But now that’s over and we’re all back home in our regular routines, we have to deal with that lull. When you’re at Photoshop World you’re on a learning high, everything is new and exciting and you just don’t want it to end. But now that it has you have to get past it.
The best way to beat it is to go out shooting. Don’t make a big deal out of it just pick up the camera and go out somewhere. It can be anywhere or anything. Make it a fun simple trip to keep those juices flowing and that excitement alive from being at Photoshop World. Believe me it will help.
If there is one thing that is all to common in the mountains is that in winter you don’t get many days with clear skies. The great sunsets we know and love often happen in the spring and summer, so when those days come around where you don’t get some light it’s best to be ready for them. Often preceding or succeeding a major storm is going to be your best bet. One of my local fishing whole that I marked out as a good shooting spot is a place I have been going to for many years now. It’s close, has lots of subjects, and always provides. Finding these locals for yourself is important to keep your skills sharp.
I spent Saturday by an Otter den waiting for them to come out. They didn’t. Wanting to still shoot but ready to call it on the Otters I then headed over to known Yellow Bellied Marmot spot to see if they would be more cooperative. They didn’t. Finally on Sunday I went down to the river to see if the birds would be cooperative. They weren’t. That is truly a skunked weekend. What do you do in that scenario?
If you have ever been in that scenario where there is no good alternatives left then you probably did what I did. You forced an image. After spending so much time out in the field with nothing to show for it, except that it felt good to go out, then odds are you ready to make any image happen no matter what. In that last instance I grabbed the D4 and 18-35 f/3.5 and walked over to the entrance road of where I had parked. I’ve often incorporated roads in my landscapes if they are interesting enough. They are a good lead in and can be an easy way for the eye to move through an image. As you can see sunset was boring but I had to make that click. This is what happens. Can you always get that shot? No, I don’t think anyone can get THE shot every time but everyone can get A shot every time. Even if it’s forced.
Well it’s Friday again which means it’s time to finish up all those weekly tasks so that this weekend came be spent outside shooting. It looks to be a pretty good weekend weather wise here in Bozeman which is good! Here is a little something I shot over on the Gallatin River to get you through your Friday.
One of the many reasons I love working outdoors is you never know what will happen. After three miles of walking through snow and freezing water I wasn’t really anxious to go any further. When I came upon this bend I was quite excited because it had a great look to it. Quite simply, the beautiful bald sky sunny day was disappearing fast and the storm was coming in. When that happened the water started reflecting both creating this surreal pocket of time showing both before and after. If you spend a lot of time living in the mountains and a lot of time in the snow, then you know that this happens frequently, a great day turns sour and then it’s back to overcast. Seeing that transformation and capturing it are too different things which is why getting out and shooting is so important.
Winter time is one of my most favorite times to shoot because the light looks so different with all the snow on the ground. Everything naturally looks more contrasted because of the snow and the subjects appear to be in a more inhospitable environment. It can be very challenging dealing with these harsh blacks and whites, but also there can be great joy.
While I was out walking the river I had my friend Alex with me and he was fishing, I started playing around with the contrast in the landscape and of course him as the subject. The great thing about water and snow is there is a lot of hot spots. Since I’m always lighting my subject is some way I figured why not try the reverse. Motion can be seen in multiple types of light and in fly fishing there is a lot of motion. The motion of the wrist and the arm and the fly is crucial when it comes to getting the right cast. Capturing that motion, even silhouetted, is essential but not always easy. Diversifying and capturing mutliple types of shots is how you become better but it all starts with experimenting.