Tag Archives winter

Good Tuesday, one and all! This week for #HybridDaveTuesdays, on #TravelTuesday here at ScottKelby.com, I’ll share a little bolt on to a previous post about shooting in the cold from a couple of weeks ago. It’s something particularly useful if you’re planning a shoot in the high Arctic areas of Norway, Finland, Sweden, Russia, Alaska, Canada, Greenland, or Iceland, so if any of these places are on your list during the winter, make sure to pay attention and tell all your friends!

There is a lot said about golden hour and blue hour in our world. You’ll struggle, in fact, to get through a photography tutorial without hearing one of those phrases. The reason for this post is to share with you my experiences in losing the ‘hour’ from these terms during the Arctic winters I’ve experienced and arming those of you who are planning to visit the far north (or south) with the knowledge you’ll need for planning your time.

The Arctic winter is a funny thing. Right now, everything from 66 degrees north and up has no sunrise – they said goodbye to the sun a short time ago and look forward to seeing it again sometime in January.

 

Jökulsárlon, Iceland at 1pm and zero degrees

 

The absence of a sunriseliterally changes everything we know of blue hour and golden hour, and that means, we have to change the way we think. Daylight hours are much shorter, affording us drastically less time to get any bright daylight shots. Everything is darker, but that’s just the start of it!

What happens to the sun during an arctic summer is pretty strange – it just bobs up and down in the sky, never setting for weeks. Arctic winters are the polar opposite – the sun bobs up and down BELOW the horizon, never really rising, but still providing some light depending on how far into the cycle you are. At the beginning and end of winter, the sun pokes above the horizon, and as you get toward the middle of winter, it gets further and further below the horizon.

What this makes us notice is that twilight sort of period – the bit right between golden hour and blue hour – hangs around for longer. A lot longer, in fact. The whole day, at times, can be akin to a sunrise or sunset, casting an ambient glow across the landscape for hours with virtually no direct light.

Solheimasandur, Iceland at 11:30am and -4 degrees

 

It really is important as a photographer to be aware of the sunrise and sunset times when visiting the Arctic, particularly the high Arctic, and plan properly around it – especially when you consider that you could potentially lose light earlier during snowstorms!

The bonus, on top of having this tranquil sunset-esque light all day, is having awesome colours and tones alongside noticeably less harsh shadows. Of course, I couldn’t give you a bonus without bringing you back down with a thud, so I’ll also tell you about it being a lot darker. Our eyes, the wonderful things that they are, adjust appropriately to the lack of light, but trust me – when you start sorting your camera settings, you’ll notice from the ISO and shutter speeds that you’ll have to select that it’s a lot darker than you think!

When the sky looks blue, but you can see all the stars, is just when you realise this, and it’s great that blue hour hangs on in there for longer!

 

3pm and -12 degrees in Finnish Lapland

 

My advice to consider, if you’re travelling to the higher or lower latitudes on a photography mission, is to pay very close attention to sunrise and sunset times and plan your days carefully around them. Make back up plans, scout locations, and take advantage of anything that presents itself to you…here’s why:-

I’d visited Strokkur before and captured a sequence of shots showing its aquatic eruption. I’d made the shot some time ago, so I wanted to get back and improve on it. Here’s the shot I’m talking about:-

Problem is that when I got there, I was fighting through a blizzard, unable to feel my nose, and was struggling to get a clean shot. Here’s me with my buddy John Parry to give you a feel:-

The situation had ruined my plan, but making the most of the change in conditions and lessening daylight hours, I caught a scene which has become one of my favourite shots ever:-

 

The extreme north can be so beautiful, but simultaneously so harsh and unexpected. Be forearmed and expect the unexpected – you can really maximise on it and capture its awesomeness!

Much love

Dave

Winter is coming people!

It’s that time again, I’m back to share my weekly dose of photographic wisdom under the lovingly crafted hashtag – #HybridDaveTuesdays

This week it’s something I feel I have a good standing to talk about due to my love of cold places. I’m going to tell you about shooting in the cold in the form of a list. If the internet has taught me only one thing it’s that everybody loves a list, right? By the way, I realise that winter is only approaching in the northern hemisphere and I’m kinda excluding half of the population of the entire world, but I’m finding peace from that with the knowledge that you southerners are about to have your Christmas BBQ’s fired up!

So here goes!

 

Here’s some snow…… it’s authentic Finnish

 

Tip #1 – Never delete anything in camera!

Snow is a funny old thing. It tricks our cameras as well as our eyes. There WILL be shots you look at of snowy scenes on the back of your camera that look terrible, but then when you get them up in Lightroom or Camera Raw they’ll look amazing following a tweak or two.

 

Tip #2 – Keep your gear cold

When you take your gear from cold to warm (like in and out of a hotel or rental car) it puts a strain on it. Once it’s cold, keep it cold. It can short out the electrics if condensation forms inside the camera. The worst thing you can do is to actively try and warm your gear up or try to make it warm near the heat vent or under your ski jacket. Furthermore, if you see that shot and pull out your camera but it instantly fogs you’ll have nothing to show your friends! I remember shooting in Finnish Lapland where I visited the Wild Spirit Animal park and just after meeting Romeo the wooly pig and before meeting Spike the Husky I was taken into a small, round cabin with a fire burning inside for a hot drink to warm me up. I left my camera outside on a pile of wood so it stayed cold and was ready to shoot again as soon as I was back out.

 

Cold enough for an Arctic Fox

 

Tip #3 – Except your batteries. Keep them warm!

There’s some science here. I mean, I don’t know what it is, but it’s here! So basically, if your batteries are exposed to the cold they’ll lose power quicker. I’ve experienced this first hand, it definitely happens. I was shooting the northern lights in the Icelandic Westfjords up on top of a mountain. I couldn’t feel my face, it was that cold. Whatever was happening to my batteries due to the cold happened pretty quick. The power was just going. What I discovered is that if I kept my batteries in my inside pockets my body heat kept them going for longer.

 

Tip #4 – Then warm your gear back up slowly!

I learned this the hard way! Kirkjufellsfoss, shown below, is an iconic Icelandic waterfall with it’s namesake mountain right behind it. Take a look here though – I have a nice wide lens mounted on my Nikon D810 but the middle of the shot is all hazy and soft. This is a direct result of having moisture build up inside the lens. It’s virtually impossible to remove in post because it ruins a whole portion of the image. Bottom line is to consider ways to warm your gear up slowly. Put it in the boot of the rental car where it’s that little bit colder and far from the heating, and put it inside your bag (closed) when you take it indoors so that it gradually adjust to the new, warmer climate. If your camera does get moist for any reason, keep it somewhere dry and of a consistent temperature, and leave ALL of the ports wide open to give the moisture an easy escape.

 

Kirkjufellsfoss, with Kirkjufell in the background – Iceland

 

Tip #5 – Overexpose for white snow

What our eyes see as pure, white snow filling the landscape, our camera sees as overexposed and so brings your camera down a notch or two. To combat this, it’s a wise idea to shoot a little over. It’s the number one tip you’ll always see on advice for shooting snow but it’s easily overcome so just be mindful of it and shoot over – you can always bring things back down in Photoshop if you’re way too bright. On a sidetone, your Auto White Balance will often change things a little towards to blue end – another thing to bear in mind. If you’re the type to use a grey card or a light meter then fine, but I’m not and I consider it all in post.

 

Some snowy bushes in Iceland

 

Tip #6 – Don’t concentrate only on snow

There’s so much more going on and snowy scenes are in themselves very romantic, I find. This shot below is of a couple stood alone outside the beautiful House of the Roundheads in Riga and although they’re only a tiny feature of the images, they add to it just enough. As with everything you shoot, snow has a tendency to get very ‘samey’ and breaking it up with details, much like you would when shooting a wedding, you’re giving it a new perspective and engaging your audience and lifting interest.

 

House of the Roundheads – Riga, Latvia

 

Tip #7 – Shoot the fauna

Even if it’s hard to find some! There are two animals which epitomise Iceland – horses and puffins – and here’s 50% of that combo! Shooting animals helps give a sense of their hardiness to the testing climates they find themselves in and if you get it right, showing their character, it can give the viewer an intense connection!

 

An Icelandic Horse

 

Tip #8 – And the flora

Good luck finding some! Much like the animals, showing the hardiness of the plant life can create a connection between the viewer and the image. It mixes up and breaks up the images of snow scene after snow scene too!

 

Lapland

 

Tip #9 – Capture the festivities

There’s a 50% chance (hemispherically) that winter means it’s Christmas! Alongside this, there’s so much going on and it all tends to give contrast to the cold. Warm fires, hot chocolates and fairground rides – it’s all beautiful, especially when you capture it right. Going to a Christmas market with a camera can yield some awesome results.

 

One of many Christmas markets in Berlin, Germany

So there’s 9 tips for shooting in the cold, I hope you can use them! Right now I’m in Tromsø, Norway, way up in the Arctic Circle (oh the power of the internet!) and you can check my progress on my Instagram story or on Facebook to see the snow I’m seeing :)

 

Until next time!

Much love

Dave

 

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