Sometimes during the winter months it can be tough to get motivated when you have week after week of grey, slushy, overcast days. In the warmer months when there is new life and everything is fresh and green it can be easier to get motivated and spot those “grand” landscapes. Earlier in my career I would find myself going out on trips in the winter on overcast days trying to find those same “grand” landscapes.
A lot of the time I would come home empty handed and discouraged. This is when I started to focus on capturing more intimate scenes, studying the landscape to find specific area’s that held interesting subjects that could be combined together to form pleasing and meaningful photos. The winter landscape brings with it a whole new set of unique elements that are not present in the spring/summer. Things like ice, snow, frost, colder tones etc. allow the artist to create photo’s that hold their own unique impact.
River Distance – Emsdale, Ontario
I arrived at the above location planning on shooting a medium sized waterfall and the river around it. I scouted the area with my camera for about half an hour composing several different wider frames but had no luck finding an angle that I was pleased with. A lot of time in winter with over cast light the snow can take on a very flat look, so including large amounts of it wouldn’t have had much visual impact for my finished piece. I decided to switch to my 70-200 and scout the shoreline. I was attracted to the above scene for a number of reasons, the first being the moving water and the opportunity to control the amount of detail with my chosen shutter speed. I also liked the small piece of ice, clinging onto the rock alone in the midst of the powerful water rushing around it. I felt the small area of rock showing through the icy shoreline in the top left corner contrasted the ice in the river perfectly and also helped balance the composition.
River Distance II – Emsdale, Ontario
By including similar and also contrasting elements in your frame you are giving your audience several layers to look at in your photo which can be interpreted in many ways. The above photo was a result of trying to frame a wider shot with the river feeding the falls in frame. Once again, including the surrounding area with the large banks of snow following the river all the way to the falls and the bare trees really did not help impact the photo so I tried a tighter frame and in the end created this composition. By excluding anything that wasn’t adding to the composition the image takes on a cleaner, simpler look and is more pleasing to the eye. In the end I decided to process both photos with a cooler tone to try and bring across that cold feeling that the scene possessed.
I'm a Canadian landscape photographer and workshop leader based out of Muskoka, Ontario who has a passion for all things outdoors. My blog is intended as a way to share images and stories from my travels as well as provide instructional articles, tips, tricks and reviews in hopes that it will help you further your craft. Landscape photography is a journey filled with excitement, passion, adventure and sometimes disappointment. I hope to help you steer clear of that last one the best I can!
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