Tag Archives: Winter Landscape Photography

Deep in the Heart of Winter | Finding Light in the Darkness

The middle of January. Gone are the last signs of the festive holiday season. Yet to begin is the first signs of the gradual shift toward the light of spring. It’s a time when deep shadows and muted tones take a firm hold on the Ohio landscape. This is when people truly hunker down inside, staying warm from the relentless cold while they count the days on the calendar till the end of the season, growing ever more impatient with a January and February that seem to linger with long, dark evenings.

Last Saturday I presented another in my ongoing series of photography workshops at nearby Cox Arboretum MetroPark. Most other times the main building and sprawling, beautifully maintained gardens are full of visitors. Even the trails leading back through the woodlands and meadow contain a steady stream of families enjoying one of what I consider Dayton’s best assets for outdoor recreation, the Five Rivers MetroPark. During my workshops held on Saturdays throughout spring and autumn there is almost always at least two weddings going on. Not last Saturday, January 15. It was just myself and my group of about 25 workshop students. Even the park gift shop was locked-up with the sign”closed for the season – see you on February 1st.”

But as I stated in my previous post, winter in Ohio still offers a variety of opportunities for the nature and landscape photographer. You just have to know where – and when – to look. The next day following the workshop I noticed a late afternoon sky taking shape that indicated to me the possibility of a colorful sunset full of dynamic, interesting shapes. I’m fortunate to live very close to another of my favorite locations amongst the Five Rivers system of parks, Sugarcreek MetroPark. It’s where I head-off to when I see the conditions coming together for the type of landscape and skycscape photography I like to do this time of year. Despite the cold I’ve found that it’s well worth the short hike along an ice-covered trail to capture the often overlooked beauty of a sunset in Ohio during winter. It’s just a brief hint of color splashed against the low clouds with a natural foreground of dark, reaching tree limbs and the tans and reds of the remains of tall grass and prairie plants.

The photographic technique employed was that of High Dynamic Range (HDR) multiple exposure photography using a Canon 1D Mark III DSLR camera with lenses that include Canon 17-35mm f2.8 L, 28-70mm f2.8 and 70-200mm f4 L IS. I always shoot using a pro-level tripod with Kirk ballhead. Multiple exposures are auto-bracketed with a usual difference of about two and half stops. Always raw file format. Programs used include Photomatix Pro and Photoshop CS4, with image file management maintained in Apple Aperture. With some of these images I also used custom, textured and framed actions in CS4.