Winter Landscapes

Firstly congratulations to James Mead for winning January’s Water, water everywhere! Challenge. Don’t forget this month’s Winter Landscape Photo Challengewinner will be announced at the start of March, so make sure you submit your entry before the closing date of 2nd March to be in with a chance of winning!

It’s time to don the thermals and brave the weather for this month’s subject – which is exactly what I did! Because, while we’re all still waiting out the long, cold months until spring, that’s no reason not to get out and about with your camera! The subject for inspiration this time around is the great outdoors at this time of year: winter landscape photography.

Whenever I can, I’m always on the lookout for ‘photogenic’ locations. If I spot a possible spot, I will either leave myself a memo on my phone, or else write down the details of where I am – including the time and the position of the sun. If the sun is not visible, I usually know which way is north or south; failing that, if you have a smartphone, there is an app that works via GPS and plots the sun’s position and arc for you. Very useful, these modern gadgets!

So, all the locations I shot for this month’s article were predetermined and then shot at the best time of day relative to the sun’s position. The direction of the sun is critical when you are trying to get really striking shots – as I hope you can see from these photos. They were all taken either into the light or with the sun at an acute angle, to create dynamic shadows.

Each shoot was conducted over a not-too freezing one-hour period, on different days during sunrise or sunset. I love the harshness of winter trees stripped of their leaves, and the hard, frosty ground. For me, this combined with the low sun creates perfect shooting conditions.

All my shots shown here were taken using my trusty Lumix G2 camera in Manual mode and set to ISO 400, with a Daylight colour balance setting. Although these images were captured Raw – as per usual – I did post-process them through Photoshop CS4. I’d chosen an ISO 400 setting so as to intentionally give the shots a gritty ‘editorial’ feel. And I didn’t take my tripod out with me this time; they are all hand-held to add to the sense of immediacy. But take yours if you prefer, giving yourself some extra set-up time accordingly.

As so often, subject matter and composition are key – not how technically perfect the resulting image file is. See what you think, and then plan your own excursion; you may not have to go as far as you might at first thin

Shots 1 – 7 were all taken at the same location, proving the important point that it’s not the best idea to take one shot and then leave (no matter how cold it is!), but is always wise to wait and try different shots over a relatively short period of time. I have shown them here in shot order. Which one’s your favourite?

Shot 1

Taken 10 minutes before sunrise; I’d made sure I was in position in good time!

  • 1/250th at f4.5
  • 20mm lens

Shot 2

Taken soon after the first, during the sunrise itself – with the shutter speed adjusted accordingly. (See my previous advice article, here on the Lumix Lifestyle site, on the pleasures of shooting at either end of the day.)

  • 20mm lens
  • 1/320th at f4.5

Shots 3 and 4

This pair of shots shows the same view with the zoom lens first set to wide, then to telephoto, with the f-stop setting adjusted as well.

  • 45-200mm zoom lens
  • 1/2000th at f4.5 and f5.2

Shot 5

Taken just 5 minutes later, for this shot I switched the Lumix to a short lens, set to its shortest point.

14mm on 14-42mm lens, 1/160th at f18

Shot 6

Still at the same location, with the sun now up, I opted to get a nice detail shot with the same lens now at its longest.

  • 42mm on 14-42mm lens
  • 1/160th at f9.0

Shot 7

A wider view taken just after the last shot.

  • 42mm on 14-42mm lens
  • 1/3000th at f5.6

For my next shoot, I was out in the countryside again and shooting for an hour or so, all in the same small area. I had positioned myself literally by the side of a main road, in fact – not every location for some great photos is immediately obvious! As before, the sun’s direction is the main factor, plus my decision to convert the resulting images to black-and-white in post-production. This time, all the shots were all taken during the hour before sunset.

Shots 8 and 9

Taken out into this picturesque farmland, you would never know I had a road with passing vehicles at my back!

  • 7mm on 7-14mm wide-angle zoom lens
  • 1/250th at f8.0

Shot 10

This was taken not far away at all – but presents an entirely different view of these fields.

  • 109mm on 45-200mm zoom lens
  • 1/1250th at f8.0

Shots 11 and 12

For my last two images this month, I travelled a long way – all of 10 yards into my back garden!

I had the lens set to 45mm for both, 1/250th at f2.8 and 1/160th at f4.0, respectively.
The result is a couple of winter detail shots for minimal effort, but which I really like.

So I hope I’ve shown that if you can’t get out into the countryside proper, there’s really no excuse!

Speaking of which – now it’s your turn.

Click here for this month’s Photo Challenge competition which, naturally enough, has as its subject winter landscape photography.

Good luck and wrap up warm now!

Phil Surbey

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Member Comments

  1. jenwall6 posted a comment on 29 February 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Hi Phil – some excellent pictures. I’ve bought my G3 yesterday and really looking forward to going out and playing with it. Really inspired by your pictures, I’m just not sure it’s going to be frosty between now and the 2nd!

  2. 2178hunter posted a comment on 4 April 2012 at 7:26 am

    Hi Phill
    Ive just bought the GF3 and so far only taken photos of the dog your picture has inspired me to see what I can do while taking her for a walk

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