Snowy day: photographic spontaneity

snowy night christian lautenschleger

I’m not the biggest fan of winter, but I love the sights of a snowy day on the trees.  As a runner, snow can severely sidetrack training; as a photographer, snow majestically changes the landscape.  You must take advantage of every opportunity given to you, as you don’t know when or if you get it again.  Recently, it calmly snowed all day.  The perfect “packing” snow that sticks to everything, for creating snowmen, and starting snowball fights.

I needed to take advantage of the day with my camera.  I wanted to try something new.  With my new lighting knowledge, I thought I would enlist the help of my speedlight.  Nothing super elaborate or fancy, but a speedlight to “paint” the snowy landscape with light. I would shoot at night.

I recently discovered a path off a nearby bike path.  I thought that would be the perfect place to experiment with nighttime, snow, speedlight photography.  I decided to shoot at night because of the element of shooting with only a little bit of ambient light, and a whole lot of artificial lighting.  I didn’t know how it’d turn out, but I wanted to experiment.

For whatever reason, I rarely take snow pictures I truly like.  I wanted to do something different that may make this snowy day photographically memorable.  Maybe take them at night?  High risk, high reward.  A learning experience nevertheless.

Off I went with my trail shoes (more grip whilst walking off the beaten path).  It wasn’t terribly cold — low 30s.

I first found a tree.  I lit it up.  The pictures came out okay.  Harsh lighting as I didn’t bring a softbox for my speedlight.  That would have helped.

snow night christian lautenschleger
Lit up tree.

Along the path I continued until I found a clearing I discovered the other day.  It had potential.

There, I made some shots I liked a little better.  Again, unfortunately, nothing I terribly liked.  Harsh light, and too much lighting flooding the landscape.  I wore a headlight, which became useful for shooting because I could use it to focus (it was dark as it was nighttime, after all, but was actually pretty bright because of the reflective snow; and the headlight added some ambient light, to alleviate some of the harshness from the speedlight).

snow night christian lautenschleger

At the end, and after I took a few minutes with them in Lightroom, I came with a few conclusions: longer exposures for more light (this would require a second tripod), a softbox for softer light, going out while it was snowing (I went out afterward to keep my equipment as dry as possible), and add a snoot for directed light.

Why am I blogging about this?  It was the perfect opportunity to try something new.  It may have worked out the way I had envisioned, but you miss every shot you don’t take.  And, I would have kicked myself from not taking the opportunity to shoot pictures during a perfectly snowy day.

snow night christian lautenschleger
Aforementioned tripod with aforementioned speedlight.

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