Story and photos by Joye Ardyn Durham
This is the time of year when we are looking forward to warmer weather, more sunshine and spring blooms. However, there is still a little winter left, so let’s get motivated to take some pictures.
Winter months have a special light. Skies are clear of haze and winter sunrises are hard to match. It is a great time to practice silhouette photography. In winter, the sunrise and sunset can be more dramatic than usual, especially right before or after snowstorms. The sun rises later and sets earlier in the day, giving the nature photographer more time to sleep in compared to summer days when dedicated photographers are up at 3:30 a.m. in order to be at that perfect destination before the sun rises.
The best filter for winter photography is a circular polarizing filter that screws onto the front of the lens and helps to lessen winter glare with photographs of waterfalls and rocks in a creek. It can also add contrast to a scene, darkening blue skies and adding definition to clouds.
A word about focus: If you are shooting photos in a snowstorm and using auto-focus, the camera may have a hard time obtaining focus because it wants to focus on a snowflake instead of the subject you mean to have as the focal point. If you have trouble, you can always turn autofocus off and manually focus so that you can control where the camera chooses to focus.
One of the most important considerations in winter photography is the care of your equipment. If the batteries to your camera are exposed to harshly cold temperatures, they can lose up to 70 percent power. That means you will only get a few photos on a charge compared to when the battery is fully charged in warmer temperatures. It is a good idea to keep a spare battery in a pocket close to body heat in order to help keep it warm. Also, if you are taking your camera from the cold into a warm building, make sure you keep the lens cap on and place your camera in a camera bag to help offset the sudden change of temperature.
Hold your breath when focusing. At colder temperatures, your breath can cause moisture to freeze on the camera. Condensation moisture is the enemy when it comes to keeping your equipment dry. If freezing moisture lands on your camera, try not to rub up because it can get moisture in the little spaces and possibly inside the camera. Wrap it up in a towel and it will dry enough for use in an hour or so.
February is one of those months when days can be cold and snowy or warm and sunny. No matter what the weather is, it’s a good time to get out with your camera. If it is cold and snowy, just know that by the end of the month there are solid signs of spring to come. Bloodroot is one of the first blooms to announce the coming of warmer weather. So get out there and create some beautiful photos as you anticipate spring.
Joye Ardyn Durham is photo editor for The Laurel of Asheville. Find her work at artistwithcamera.com and at area galleries.