A Winter Wonderland

I typically don’t take many photos during the winter. It’s cold, things are pretty dead outside, and I tend not to travel to places looking for photo opportunities. We were fortunate recently to have a ton of snow that stuck on the trees for days, turning our usually barren landscape into a winter wonderland. I got off my butt and took the opportunity to capture some moments, and I’m pretty happy with them.

These first images are some good shots of Jada running and playing in the snow. For a dog that came from the south, she really seems to enjoy it! We took her out into the backyard for some playtime and I captured her in action with my Nikon D500. It may not be a mirrorless eye-tracking monster, but it can crank out some nice images at 10 fps on a 70 – 200mm f/4. One of these images has a pretty significant crop on it, so much that it was upscaled by Topaz Gigapixel AI first. See if you can spot it.

The images above are the result of me getting off my lazy butt and driving around Dover looking for opportunities. Nearly everything was beautiful, but there were only so many spots that didn’t require me to stand in the middle of traffic to get the shot. These were taken on the Route 4 bridge connecting Rollinsford and South Berwick over the Salmon Falls river. I brought my D800 for maximum resolution and my 24 – 120mm f/4 for flexibility. The water was calm so I was able to get nice reflections without a tripod. I processed the first image a bit cooler than the others to give it a serene feeling. The second is more true-to-life; I love the red shed sticking out in the sea of white. The third shot is the view of the entire river reflecting the snow covered trees. I tried the same shots at 1/20 second just to see if I could get a bit more smoothness in the water, but it’s just too slow for my shaky hands.

The group above is from my most “dangerous” setup where I had to stand behind a guard rail on 236 so I didn’t get hit. I wanted to get centered to avoid some brush that was peeking into the bottom of the composition, but had to be careful as the snow obscured the shape of the terrain. I didn’t want to take a cold dip in the water by mistake.

I originally saw this over the summer during one of Zach’s travel soccer games. It’s the Great Works River, right over the line in South Berwick. The contrast in the first image felt right in black and white while the second gets a more natural treatment.

This final set of images is from a farm in Rollinsford off of Portland Ave that I’ve wanted to photograph for a very long time. It might be part of Viel Farm, but I’m not sure. Anyway, my original vision was to catch it before sunset as the first golden rays started to appear, but this winter scene really fit the bill too. The land is so vast that it just melts away in that sea of white with a small tree poking out here and there. I love the first image because of the pop of red among all the white. The black and white panorama is stitched together from a few images and shows the openness of the landscape. The snow was like that for three days!

In the middle panorama you’ll se my small obsession with this little tree. I was drawn to its loneliness in the middle of the landscape. That image also has some pops of color from the same barn as the first image. I shot the same tree again at a closer range in the image below. It still looks lonely. The images are rounded out with two trees standing together in the landscape and another shot of the barn with what I think is a hay bail in the foreground. While I keep referring to these images as “lonely” I actually find them quite serene and relaxing.

One thing that I practiced across all of these images was exposure. Cameras generally don’t handle bright whites or deep blacks well, underexposing the whites and overexposing the blacks. I set my camera to overexpose a bit so the snow would be bright without blowing out the highlights. I still made minor adjustments in post, but they were pretty minimal.

The combination of randomly nice weather, a camera rental, and beautiful sticky snow has resulted in my most productive December-January photo period ever. I’ve always wanted to push myself more in the winter, so here I am!

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