The first shoot of winter is always an adjustment for me. The colors--just like the air--are cold and the layers of clothing tends to put up a barrier between my senses and the environment Even the camera feels different,; the dials turns with more difficulty.

Picture story

The making of: "First Winter Sunset"

Making pictures in the icy cold of winter requires certain  adjustments and challenges, compared to the warmer weather.

The cold weather brings a  blueish hue to the light, especially in the late afternoon and at sunset. Textures seem more harsh, perhaps the result of the cold.  And the white snow can play tricks with your exposure.

The cold also creates the more obvious  physical challenges, like how to turn the dials on the camera while wearing mittens, remaining upright while walking on icy snowbank and toting a backpack full of gear, and--most importantly--hoping that the "weather proofed" camera gear really lives up to its billing.

I was thinking about  all that recently as I walked along the frozen shores of one of my favorite lakes,  at Independence   Grove, a forest preserve near my home.

The 115-acre lake is surrounded by walking and biking paths, making access—even in the cold months—easy. And the inlets and panoramas offer a nice variety of scenery. I've come to realize, though, that shooting from the walking paths is not the best spot because its too far from lake. So I  generally walk right along the shore,  which creates its own set of challenges in terms of footing.

Winter sunsets can be spectacular at Independence Grove, with oranges, blues and  yellows streaking across the horizon, and the frozen lake surface offering some interesting patterns and textures. I had those elements going for me last month when I made “First Winter Sunset."

As the sun fell near the horizon, the clouds turned a nice gray-blue and streaks of light reflected off the frozen lake, barely illuminating the ice along the shore and the dormant yellow grasses.

I wanted the finished image to have a feeling of depth.     So  I positioned  the camera  (Sony A7ii with a Zeiss 24/70 f4  and an ND filter) so the reeds would be in the foreground. The other elements fell into place from there. To emphasize the cold feeling , I tweaked the blues and oranges in post production (editing in Lightroom, for the photogeeks out there!)

Like many perfect sunsets, this one didn't last long, only long enough to make a few frames, one of which is featured this month.



"First Winter Story" is available by clicking on  the "Landscapes" link below.

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"Picture story" is a monthly look at one of my images and what went into making it.


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