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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.
As I mentioned earlier, forests have always seemed to be a really difficult thing to shoot. Every time I get out in them, I get overwhelmed by all those vertical lines and all that visual noise and I don't like being in the cold and it's a, this was a scary shoot for me, photographically. I, I didn't know if I was going to be able to find anything, so it's really funny to come out here today and start seeing forms like this and go oh, it's just like shooting in Death Valley. I am really compositionally doing the same thing here that I would do in the dunes.
I've got just this wonderful pure geometry, just these plays of tone and line. This could absolutely, color this yellow and it's sand and I already know how to do that. So this is great. I have come to this place that I thought was going to be really alien and difficult for me, and feel right at home, found that all of the shooting that I've been doing for years in the desert applies to here. This is why you shoot whatever's in front of you whether it's a good picture or not because you're practicing something and you never know what it is.
So the way I'm approaching this is just again as a pure composition exercise. I'm playing with points and lines and shapes and the relationship. All of the stuff that's covered in Foundations of Photography: Composition. It's all right here in this big white laboratory that's really easy to play with. And so you get out here, and it is just a matter of this kind of thing, where I'm playing that line off against that point of that rock. And one thing you have to be careful of out here is it is cold. It tends to make you, I don't know if lazy is the right word, but reluctant to work your shots a lot, because oh, I'm going to have to move around and it's great.
The sun's out right now, so it's not too bad but I still need to do the work that I would normally do, which is really play with my relationships here. so, you saw that shot. Watch how much different it is if I just kneel down in the snow. now, I'm bringing that rock in the upper left-hand corner more into the frame and if I go even lower, I can set up some other stuff. Now I'm thinking all of these have square crops, so I'm just looking at the middle of the frame. Oh, now I've picked up that little bush there in the middle. But maybe here, I can go vertical and change my position again.
And now my hand is all wet I don't know if any of these shots are going to work, if I'm going to like any of them. But this kind of play is really how you learn both composition and how to recognize subject matter as you're walking around. And it may not be, as I'm learning here, that you're just learning how in this case, to recognize subject matter when you're walking around snow. But when you're walking around anywhere that is a strong geometric environment. That could be sand dunes, or that could be a row of repetitive architecture in Barcelona or something like that.
So, you keep your eyes open and you work with the basics because you never know what they're going to translate to.
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