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TOO COLD OUTSIDE TO TAKE PHOTOS? THINK AGAIN !

Many of us here in the United States are in the middle of a hard arctic blast, and it just makes it seem like not a good time to go out and take photos.  It’s miserable outside, and photos can wait.  Or should they?  Some of the best photos ever taken are sometimes taken in the bitterness of cold.  I can hardly wait until January where I live and fog rolls in.  That is the best time to go out and capture some of my favorite photos.  I still love this close-up photo I have taken of just a clump of grass:

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I will admit that I am not a winter person, but, it seems that winter brings on the most interesting times to take photos.  When fog rolls in, or when winter snow storms cover the trees, it is a natural piece of art that unfolds right before you.  It is a great opportunity to add to your portfolio collection.

I am including a great article written by:  James Hutchison about learning to take photos in the cold of winter.  So, please read through this, and learn some of the great things he has written here:

 

Many photographers run for cover when the outside air temperature dips five or ten degrees below the freezing point, fearing their equipment may malfunction, or worse, their fingers and toes will fall victim to Jack Frost’s wiles. Although these concerns may hold some truth, the reality is that with adequate and thoughtful preparation, the snow-shy landscape photographer has a whole other side of nature to discover during winter—and a beautiful one at that.

cold weather photography

Crisp winter air emphasizes the beauty of luminous clouds, eerie fog and mist, and that special light only a sunrise can provide. It is said that “success is the random collision of chance, opportunity, and perseverance.” I can claim that this so called off-season time of year provides ample opportunity for just that: the capture of successful images to add to your portfolio.

Now having said all this, I’ve actually been guilty of not exploring the winter wonderland that lies in my own back yard! Even though I’m Canadian, my nose (and my photo gear) have been kept quite warm, at least until recently.

In early winter of 2004 a friend and photography mentor offered the opportunity to accompany him on a weekend of travel and photography in one of Canada’s most spectacular areas called Bighorn Wild Land in Alberta. The photo opportunities are plentiful in this region, thanks to the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains, waterfalls, lakes, and wildlife. And my friend is a full-time pro who knows the area intimately, so how could I say no?

The experience was fun and educational. Having worked in the outdoors in the wintertime years ago as a surveyor, I knew to dress warm enough so that shooting wasn’t uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong though, it wasn’t a walk in the park—pre-dawn setup at the shore of Lake Abraham was very difficult due to howling northerly winds. It was bad enough we had to splay the legs of our tripods wide so they wouldn’t topple, so you can imagine how protecting ourselves from wind chill was essential.

Now, before any of you go trudging out into the wild winter in your brand new custom-made mukluks, there are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up when it comes to clothing and equipment. But even before that, if you’re inexperienced you should start out taking short jaunts from your vehicle; no big hikes your first time out.

winter landscape photo

We kept our extremities toasty with chemical hand warmers. These are a godsend when fiddling with your camera’s dials and knobs. It’s a good idea to wear thin gloves for working with your equipment, and heavy mitts with the hand warmers inside to de-frost from time to time. Footwear should be of good hiking quality, fully intended for cold weather. Remember, you may be standing around for a while waiting for the right light. I mistakenly spent a few hours wearing thinner boots and although purchased as “winter footwear”, my estimation of their insulative value was wrong. It’s best to bring a thinner pair of boots for driving, and heavier ones if you plan to be out for more than half an hour. It’s always good to have options! Dress in layers, with something over your head and ears; remember most of your body heat is lost through your head. A balaclava under your warm winter hat will help when it’s really cold.

For the parts between your head and feet, I recommend long underwear, snow pants, a turtle-neck sweater, an insulated sleeveless vest, and a warm coat with a high collar. Down-filled, or anything rated for minus 30 degrees is good. When hiking to reach your destination, unzip your coat and your vest as you warm up.

Camera equipment, for the most part, will function as normal provided it has been professionally lubricated and cleaned, and it isn’t 40 below! Mechanical parts do have environmental limitations; refer to your manual if you’re in doubt. Even a DSLR without its film transport mechanism has motors, solenoids, etc. to actuate the mirror and auto focus. But, you can usually push the limits beyond published specs by keeping the battery warm, which is usually the first thing to affect camera performance. This can be done with an umbilical adapter that plugs into the battery’s compartment, and a wire long enough for storing the battery in your warm clothing. For digital cameras, image storage is limited around minus 13 degrees, even if you have the latest memory card technology.

If your tripod has metal legs, don’t handle them with bare hands as they will extract the heat from your skin, and possibly initiate the onset of frostbite. Keep those mitts handy when moving from place to place. A trick my friend did to “winterize” his tripod was to fasten pipe insulation to the upper part of the legs with cloth hockey tape. This also makes it more comfortable when it rests on your shoulder while traversing from site to site.

winter photography tips

“little tree” captured by Rob (Click Image to See More From Rob)

Plan your shooting based on the weather forecast. If you haven’t already scouted out some favorite spots, do so with a compass. The sun rises in the south-east in winter, and sets in the south-west. If it’s going to be overcast, waterfalls are great subjects. Other good overcast subjects are ice patterns in frozen lakes and ponds, and babbling brooks with lots of snow and ice formations.

Don’t despair if it’s overcast before sunrise. We were about to give up on an overcast morning but got lucky at daybreak when the sky cracked a bit and the red sun painted gorgeous under-lit clouds and mountain peaks. My friend had the place in mind the day before, so our foreground was already figured out. Good light can appear fast, but disappear just as quickly. If your day is going to be partly cloudy, you’ll be blessed with a killer sunrise photo. Entire books have been written on landscape compositions, but I’ve learned the most magical time to shoot anything can be at sunrise and sunset. The light is fantastic at this time, and more so in winter. Think reflecting pools of water for a foreground—in the right conditions they’ll provide a rising mist that is beautiful when captured during a colorful sunrise.

With the right clothing, planning, and dependable equipment, nature provides us with some magnificent material! I became a fan of winter photography and will continue to enjoy it in the future. Give it a try if you haven’t yet.

About the Author:
James Hutchison (burnstownimages dot ca) is a graduate of the New York Institute of Photography, and a member of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals.

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WHY PHOTOGRAPHY IS SUCH A GREAT HOBBY !

Don’t you just love taking pictures?  Don’t you just love the memories you can capture?  How about the great artistic things you can capture with your camera? 

WHY IS PHOTOGRAPHY SUCH A GREAT HOBBY?

 
SO LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT THIS A LITTLE MORE SERIOUSLY.  JUST WHY DO WE ALL LOVE PHOTOGRAPHY SO MUCH?  SOME TAKE IT A LITTLE MORE SERIOUSLY AND MAKE MONEY WITH PHOTOGRAPHY, BUT, FOR THE MOST PART, THOSE OF US WHO ARE READING THIS BLOG, ARE JUST WANTING TO BE GREAT PHOTOGRAPHERS AS A HOBBY, AND IF BY CHANCE WE MAKE A LIVING AT IT, THEN GREAT !!  SO, LET’S LOOK AT THE REASONS WHY THIS IS SUCH A GOOD HOBBY:
 
ARTICLE BY DAVID TONG:

It’s a simple question. Why am I taking pictures? What’s so special about photography compared to other visual art forms?

I’m not writing this to give you an answer, but I’m sharing why I love what photography does for me and why I think it’s such a great hobby to integrate into my life, which also resulted to me starting a photography blog site.

“Random Encounter” captured by PictureSocial member Willy Yohanes

WHY PHOTOGRAPHY MEANS A LOT TO ME:

As I share my personal reasons to these questions and I’d like to encourage you to add yours in the commenting section as well. Feel free to add a link to your blog or gallery for everyone to enjoy as well.

I’m sure everybody has a GREAT story to tell.

PHOTOGRAPHY FILLS A NEED:

I believe we all picked up a camera at a very young age, no matter how simple or basic that camera may have been. My first camera was a Canon Snappy 50 given to me by my mom when I was 8. I believe it was because of the 84 Olympics ads that I saw in the magazines that kept advertising this camera. It’s unusually long frame and that little orange tab to make the flash fire were icing on the cake for an 8-yo! I wanted the star-spangled version but that was unavailable in Asia back then.

Anyway, my mom was a shutter bug, not in a technical or artistic sense, however.

Like most moms, she snaps everything and records every little embarrassing memorable moment my sister and I go through. It was like a diary for her, and she ended up having suitcases of photo prints sorted in plastic bags and Dymo labels (remember those? Damn I’m dating myself too much here!).

Fast forward to my grade school and high school years, my camera adventures circled around taking photos of friends, skateboarding antics, and martial art events. In college, the acquisition of a proper SLR opened the floodgate of gear lust and more serious phases of photography.

Now that I’m a father, my camera’s job circled back to what my mom used to do, documenting my son’s adventures. My son’s daily photo diary started four years ago and I’m still doing it now. I wished I was able to start the daily photo project earlier, but at least I took enough pictures of him since birth that my collection can still be considered ‘complete’.

Photo captured by PictureSocial member Kameron Barney

Photography also fills a lot of less personal needs for me. From taking pictures for my businesses, earning opportunities through paid photography services, or even starting my online blogging journey (this site!). I wouldn’t have experienced those things if it wasn’t because of photography.

PRACTICALITY:

Many feel that photography isn’t an art nor should it deserve as much attention as paintings because it’s relatively easy to get into photography. While I do agree to a certain extent, there are several factors the naysayers fail to realize as well.

Anyone with an image-capturing device can get started with photography, that makes it fun and personal for everyone. Yes, you don’t need talent to take pictures, but unless your goal was to make photography your art medium, there’s nothing wrong with just snapping pictures with no concern on technicalities nor aesthetics.

I don’t think there’ll be many people out there walking into an art store buying a set of paint brushes and start painting out of convenience or impulse. I’ve yet to see a major headline news moment being drawn or painted either, it’s just not an immediate way to communicate compared to photography. Ever wondered why it’s easier to find a camera for sale than a set of art brush?

I appreciate a good sketch or painting as much as anyone, but for a guy like me who has no talent in painting or drawing, there’s a big, invisible wall preventing me from connecting to any paint artist.

A photograph, on the other hand, allows me to imagine as if I’m seeing the place through the eyes of the photographer (I hate that cliché, but there’s no better phrase).

With digital photography, the immediate feedback connects us even faster. Camera phones, remote uploads, social media sharing all allows us to see the world as it happens – yes, even if there’s no skill involved!

Now how is that a bad thing?

“Colorado Road” captured by PictureSocial member Scott A. Pope

THE GADGETS ARE FUN :

As with any hobby, the success, growth and longevity depends greatly with its marketability.

The technology revolving around photography is highly addictive and the way brands play into people’s minds produced both amusing conflicts and insipirational camaraderie. The simple fact that most of the products aren’t that different but they are marketed in such a way that only subjective comparisons can be made these days allows photography to be an endless source of debate, which by itself is entertaining and attention grabbing already.

Film cameras in the past get to enjoy a life cycle of about 2-3 years per model. Now in the digital world, even the highest models only get 18 months of life before being supplanted by a new model. Entry level cameras won’t even last a year before they’re due for replacement.

New technologies bring out new needs for additional accessories and gadgets, and for most of us gear heads, we’re more than willing to help out the economy and feed that gear lust of ours.

IMMORTALIZES THE THINGS YOU CARE ABOUT:

The biggest reason, I believe, is just the ability of capturing a moment as it happens with just a single click of a button. Sure, skilled and experience photographers may capture the scene in a more artistic manner compared to the casual snapper, but the key point is, you captured what you want to remember right then and there!

Our brain and its stored memory are amazing, you can piece together fragments of an event and relive the entire day with ease. If it’s a group event, all of you can recall every single detail collectively with just one photograph. The emotions a photograph can throw back at you can be overwhelming at times regardless of technical execution.

The ability of photography to connect to our past, associate us in an event, and preserve memories without words or interpretation makes it an influential hobby for all of us.

Photo captured by PictureSocial member Trandinhkhiem

What’s your story? How did you get started with photography? Where has it taken you and what else will you do with it? Share it below for the world to see:

About the Author:
David (from http://reviews.davidleetong.com/) is a freelance photographer, blogger, and writer providing quality and free photography-related tutorials, camera reviews, and Adobe Photoshop tips through his blog and workshops.