Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Good to Be Gray: Winter Nature Photography

Another week of snow. Another week of sub-freezing temperatures with many inches of snow and ice on the ground.  I could have sipped my green tea and fumed over the fact that my MacBook was being repaired while I sat indoors with rare, idle time.

If the birds can tolerate the cold, so can we.  Clean the lenses, clear the memory cards, time to go out.

While it's great to have a goal for your shoot, photography is a form of art.  To capture art, it's important to take in all the elements.  If you're too focused on one mission a magical photo opportunity may be missed.

Each season brings its own charm. Winters in Michigan with its bitter cold and isolating gray is no exception.  Farmland and rolling hills are framed with icy, barren trees. Memories of time gone by ignite when I happened upon abandoned farm equipment on one of my winter shoots last year.

Of Time Gone By
Nikon 5100, 55-300mm, f/10, ISO 250, 1/400 sec
In February, there are a few wintry weeks left before the Snowy Owls head farther north. With location tips from fellow birders, knowledge of their habitat, time to create my own luck. 

Before leaving to go back home on a winter shoot, we drove one last time through the route. The Snowy Owl appeared.  Our magnificent Ghost Owl.  He was probably there all along, watching as we drove through our version of the tundra searching for him for a couple of hours. 

He was quite stoic, perched patiently atop an old telephone pole as I put my camera on the tripod.  He then scratched, moved his head 270 degrees a few times. 

Snowy Owl Watching
Nikon 7100, Sigma 150-500mm, ISO 250 f/9, 1/640 sec

He posed graciously for many snaps until we both were startled by a child coming out of nowhere shrieking, "What are you taking a picture of?" 

Yes, he flew away. While he flew, we both silently stared as his casper-like wings moved softly in silent flight.  A treasure to observe.

When I showed the young girl the many owl images in my camera, she became genuinely inquistive in the owl, about birds and photography. 

Hmmmm.  A potential convert.  It's good to be outside in winter.