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Snow-covered landscapes introduce a variety of photographic opportunities and challenges. A blanket of brilliant white can do beautiful things with light, but it also complicates exposure. Crystal-blue winter skies are dramatic, but shooting in the cold can be cumbersome and hard on your gear.
In this course, photographer, author, and educator Ben Long takes a trip to Lake Tahoe to explore winter shooting at various times of the day. He also shows techniques for post-processing winter scenes to make them look their best.
You may not recognize it, but this is the location that I was at on the first day, the day when I couldn't see anything because there was so much snow blowing around. We're very lucky that we got to come back here. It's a beautiful spot. The weather is fantastic. I've got clear sky, but I've also got some clouds in the sky, which is giving me two things. It's giving me something in the sky, so the sky isn't so boring and it's giving me some nice diffusion here and there. So I'm just walking around seeing what I can find, and it's just a great place to be. I spotted these trees on this hill here, and there's something about them.
I spotted 'em, an hour or so ago and I haven't been able to find the shot. I don't know actually what it is that's compelling to me about them. I, I've been stuck in these thick forests and, and they're so hard to shoot. I like the idea, okay, here are some trees that, they're a little more manageable somehow. They're spread out. They're not just this wall of visually noisy stuff. And I've, I've been looking for a shot, and I found this one which I like. Working the trees with the rock. I really hate that tree over there on the far left side. So, I'm just not going to worry about it.
I'm going to take that out later, and as I look at the image, I also realize, and there's a chair lift that I'm going to have to take out. So, now I'm into really a previsualization place and this is what you do when you're shooting anyway. You think, I'm going to adjust the contrast this way, I'm going to try and play up this tonal relationship. But of course, we also think about retouching. This is part of the great power of Photoshop, is I can remove that tree pretty easily, and the chairlift. So the first thing I think, I need to think of is, is there anything I need to do when I'm shooting to make that part easier? And in this case, no.
The kind of thing I'm talking about is if things were intersecting in a way that would make for a difficult retouching later, then I might want to look for a different angle. For example, if I moved even just a little bit to the right, the chair lift starts to intersect with the tree more, and just makes for a more complicated retouching. If I come just a little bit to the left, I can actually get the chair lift to not touch the tree at all. And that might make things a little bit easier. It also gives me a slightly tighter framing on the subject matter that I like.
In some cases, especially when you're working with a horizon, you can take something off of the horizon simply by getting down lower. The offending object will fall below the horizon. This might actually be stuff that you're used to doing already. Shooting with the idea that, well, I'm, I could take this out later. And I think this, this movie is as much about giving you permission to do that, as it is about anything else. 'because I talk to a lot of people who go, I must be doing something wrong if I'm, if I'm not able to get it right in frame. No. Sometimes you just can't get it right in frame. Now I try as much as possible to do everything that I can in the camera.
From getting exposure right, to getting my composition right for a couple of reasons. Sometimes you may think, oh, I'll just take that tree out. And then you go home and find, wow, that one's a really hard one to pull off. And you can't do it. So the more you can do it in frame, the better. For landscape shooting like this where I'm just trying to make pretty pictures, I'm not worried about the journalistic integrity of, of taking things out of the frame. Probably the biggest way that I pre-visualize in this way is cropping. Now this is a case where I'm going to leave the cropping as it is, but there might be another picture right in here, where I can't get the crop that I want in camera, and so we'll need to crop later.
For example, and I'm, I'm not sure about this, but this shot right here. I think there's probably too much sky in that shot and maybe even a little too much foreground. If I wanted to go even wider, then there would definitely be too much stuff on the top and bottom. This is about the relationship between the left side of the frame and the right side of the frame. And so for that, I would need a tighter crop. Huh. Interestingly enough, it looks like I, I can get that one in camera. I can just go right into there. Anyway, my, my point is still sound, which is that there are times you cannot frame the shot the way you want in camera.
I particularly find this when I'm visualizing squares. This camera will not show me a square frame. So, if I wanted to build a square composition out of these two trees, and I'm going to have to remove that chairlift thing, I would frame up the shot like this, knowing full well that I plan to crop it like that. So, there're a lot of things that I think about when I'm framing a shot about my post production. They're not all exposure related. Some have to do with, with recomposing the shot on purpose using the crop tool and some have to do with re-touchings. You've gotta have those in your mind, while you're out shooting.
Otherwise you're going to miss shots because you're going to frame something up and think, oh, that's doesn't work. There's a chairlift in the way. So, you're trying to visualize all of this stuff as you go.
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