Winter can be one of the most difficult seasons to photograph. Its beauty is so often monochromatic: shades of white, grey skies, bare black branches. Sometimes, if there is little to no snow, winter is shades of brown.
It has long been a challenge of mine to capture the peaceful feeling I get, walking in winter: the still silence of walking in a snowstorm, or the joy of walking through crisp snow on a cold, sunny day.
In addition to the subtle nature of winter scenery, there are other challenges. The most stunning days can be the coldest, and the mysterious experience of walking through the silence of snowfall can be wet, neither of which is good for cameras. There is also the issue that the camera plays with colors, especially when there are no vibrant colors in the frame. The whites of snow and ice become blue or grey, or they white out completely. There are techniques to getting the snow just right: using a grey card to set the white balance before taking the shot, for example. But when out on a winter walk, my full camera bag most often stays home, and I have the camera that is with me. I must make do.
Here are some of my realizations. When the landscape is monochromatic, it is the shapes that stand out, or the textures, or the contrast of one element against a backdrop.
Sometimes, everything goes just right. Those are images to cherish. The image at the top of this post is Winter Calm. The shadows on the snow emphasize the calm, and give the camera something to focus on so the snow doesn’t become a solid field of grey-blue.
I may never find my perfect image of “Walking through the woods on a snowy evening”, but I will keep trying. The lovely thing about winter photography, is that winter returns every year, and is always different, providing many chances to try again.