Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lights & Ice

Snow and ice have an amazing ability to transform even the most mundane object, such as the light below, into something beautiful.  Some of the best scenic winter pictures can be taken as the sun is slipping down over the horizon.  When the natural light fades at dusk and the man-made lights come up, true magic can happen.

My advice for some fun twilight winter shots is to be at your location in warm clothes and extra socks about an hour before sunset (not sundown).  There are lots of apps out there for your smartphone that calculate these times precisely.  Locations with lots of landscape lights, waterfalls, fountains, Christmas lights, and other lighted formations are great.  Spend a little bit of time scouting the area for some fun angles. Then, when you have a few shots picked out, just start shooting.  

I am not a fan of flash in these situations.  Unless set up very carefully, it can blow out the detail on the snow and lessen the impact of the lights.  I prefer a longer exposure assisted by a tripod to catch the beauty that is normally seen by the human eye at such moments.  The light disappears quickly this time of year, so be prepared to work fast.  
I haven't been able to get out early enough for winter pictures yet this year, but had some good luck last year.  Check out my Flickr photostream for some examples.
Canon 5D Mark II
135mm - ISO 800
1/500s - f/5.6

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