It's Snowing

By Roger (2 March 2015)

So, it snowed, again, this weekend. It wasn't much this time. This year, in northern Virginia, we've had a decent amount of snow – for our area. We can't compete with New England's totals, but we've had a couple storms that put down enough to cause some havoc with traffic and the school schedule. (My wife is a teacher, so I know the impact, first hand.) Many of my fellow citizens are tired of it and wishing for Spring to arrive quickly.

Me? I like the snow. During my travels with Uncle Sam, I lived in Alaska and Bavaria, so I have lots of experience with it. We have, even, used vacation time to go visit snow.

Kenai Fjords, Alaska

Kenai Fjords, Alaska

This is a scan of a slide from 1989, in Kenai Fjords, Alaska, and the boat is 80' long. This was a 50mm, the “normal” lens for a SLR film camera. I didn't have a wide angle lens, so I couldn't get the top of the glacier into the frame. The blue color of glaciers is caused by the compression of the snow creating such a density that the red wavelengths of light are filtered out; only the blues are passed through. That's a lot of snow.

The world looks different when the white stuff starts flying. This weekend, I went out before our snow started to melt. The cold temperatures had kept the latest snowfall light and fluffy (as opposed to wet and slushy), but the sun and wind had were beginning to do their work. Although I was out early, another photographer beat me to the scene. He had crossed the ice to get onto a little island in the creek for a shot that most people would never get of the snowy bridge across the creek.

Another crazy photographer

Another crazy photographer

You can use the snow to for inspiration to get outside and find those photographs that no one else will go out for. You might have to dig around to find some extra clothing to put on. You will need adjust your exposure meter to compensate for the brightness. You have to be careful because it's slippery. Are you going to let these trivial things keep you from making photos? Am I beginning to sound like I'm channeling Matt Foley? Sorry, I watched the re-union show and got carried away.

Old Town Manassas

Old Town Manassas

The point is to take advantage of opportunities to add variety to your photographs. The snow and ice will give a new look to the familiar places you've photographed many times. For those complaining that there is nothing new to photograph, this stuff is made for you. Go get it.

An early freeze

An early freeze

I use the snow to try new things. I own a 105mm lens for portraits; however, it is also a macro lens. I rarely use it for that because my main interest is people. I've always liked the photos that macro photographers produce, but I have problems creating anything that knocks my socks off. The snow and ice give me opportunities to keep plugging away.

Sometimes the new things are photo concepts that, again, I rarely employ. The photo below has lots of “negative space.” Like everything in photography, there are variations in the definition of negative space. We'll do a more complete description in a future blog. Here the negative space is the all the snow around the plant.

Negative space can create moods and change a viewer's approach to your photo. Imagine a photo of this plant in May, with all the grass and weeds around it. The plant would be lost in all the other noise. Here the negative space simplifies the photo and demands the viewer's attention. Again, these are not the types of photos I usually take, so I enjoy the variety.

Negative space

Negative space

I hope I've convinced you to get out and take advantage of any snow you've been suffering through. The white stuff can present you with some variety and fun in your photography. If you think I'm just crazy for going outside in these conditions, that's alright, too.

___________Follow-up from last week______

My last blog wasn't so much a rant about amateurs versus professionals, but the fact that, in so many areas of our photography world (and the “real” world, too), labels are a two-edged sword. We've all seen non-paid photographers with work that is breath-taking and paid photographers with work that is sub-standard (at least, in our opinion). The labels are imperfect because they are so subjective.

I guess, I could have written that I don't think labels are useful or accurate, but, then, I'd have needed to come up with a different blog topic. As you can tell, I'm passionate about this one. :-)