How to Take Great Winter Close-ups
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The appeal of a landscape covered with fresh snow or frost has an alluring effect on most outdoor photographers. Confronted with such attractive scenes, the first impulse is to look at the bigger picture and compose an image that captures the overall beauty of what may be a short-lived condition. Within this wider scene, however, will almost certainly lie several interesting details and abstracts that can make fascinating compositions.
Being aware of such possibilities is particularly valuable if you find yourself struggling with the wider vista in terms of composition or lighting. Many details may be less dependent on good lighting and so can be tackled while waiting for light to improve or taken on dull days, as was the case with these trapped pockets of air, requiring a lengthy exposure of 2.5 sec @ f9 (ISO 200).
Although snow may not be encountered by everyone in the UK each year, no part escapes at least some frost and ice, both of which provide excellent opportunities, even close to home and thereby avoiding any lengthy travel. Details will seldom be spotted if you drive around in a car so it pays to get out and walk, keeping your eyes open for shapes, patterns and texture.
Producing detailed images can be achieved by using a:
- short zoom - current models generally have quite useful short focusing distances.
- telephoto lens, anything between 100 and 400mm, which is ideal for more distant features or to compress perspective for a particular effect.
- macro lens for the ultimate close ups
I use all three lenses, probably with equal frequency, but more important than the equipment is the vision of the photographer.
Smooth ice forms a highly reflective surface and by adjusting one’s shooting position and angle it is often possible to make significant differences to what is reflected. Reflections of a sunset sky, colourful building or hillsides, can introduce colour to existing shapes and surfaces. Small changes in the angle of view, including distance from the subject, shifting left or right, or altering the camera height, can profoundly alter the areas of colour and their distribution in the composition.