Whenever I got out to photograph landscapes, my mind isn’t just thinking about the wide angle get everything into the frame shot. No, I’m also thinking about snippets. Close up portions of the landscape that work well in themselves that can provide excellent material. With snow the possibilities seem to magnify so there is much more out there to be photographed. The other day when I was shooting sunset this was how I approached the situation.
Landscape shooting is never just about capturing everything, it’s also about being creative. You got to be able to see more in the landscape then just the whole picture. If you think about sunset or sunrise, you have to get to the location early so you don’t miss anything. Well in that time your waiting for that magical moment you can play with the elements around you and get some really great stuff. As I showed on Wednesday the whole area was beautiful but broken done worked just as well. There weren’t many clouds but the ones that were there stuck around and some of them were on top of the peaks. By isolating those clouds with a 70-200 or even a 200-400 you can get great black and white shots. It doesn’t take much and describes what the Absaroka Range looks like just as well.
The same philosophy of isolating elements while composing works just as well with reflections, sometimes even better. The spot where I was at had an upper and lower location of about 300ft. That amount is a dramatic difference in how much middle ground is in the shot, i.e. the trees between the river and the mountains. Those Cottonwoods are beautiful in the Fall, in Winter not as pretty. However, they did pose as a challenge. They were grey snags. By isolating part of the grove with the reflection in the water and then using SilverEfex Pro I was able to bring out that detail and make better use of those trees.
One thing to keep in mind when working with black and white conversions, it is always key to have true black point and white point in the image. That is crucial. In ColorEfex Pro there is ProContrast which can bring out shadows really well, but it also can bring out noise. Also using levels you can bring out blacks and whites without bringing out more noise or making a really big file. These are all simple tips that can make a difference when applied. The best one being when you’re working with sunset or sunrise always be looking for tight shots not just the wide ones. Those are some of the best times for dynamic light and intense shadows.
In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 70-200VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film