February, 2010

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Snowy Days at the Busch Conservation Area

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Sunny Winter Day

What a difference lighting can make to invoke a mood when viewing a photograph. The photograph to the left was taken at Busch Conservation Area on a sunny weekend morning a couple of days after a snowfall in the St. Louis area. Coming from Milwaukee, the snow in St. Louis is both less frequent and less heavy, so you take advantage of it when it falls.

You can tell this is a few days after the snowfall since the trees have no snow on them – the sun has effectively melted most of the snow.

Contrast the first photograph with this second photograph, taken at the same location, but on a different type of day.

Overcast Winter Day

The overcast sky invokes an entirely different mood when viewing this photograph. You can almost feel the cold – in contrast to the first one where the sun creates a warmer feeling. The tones in the first photograph are warm tones, while the second lacks any warmth at all.

Snow scenes can be difficult to shoot, since the automatic exposure control in most cameras is fooled by the sheer amount of bright, white snow.

The automatic exposure control does an excellent job of determining the overall light available in a scene, setting the correct exposure to get a correctly balanced photograph. With snow, however, the camera tries to average out the scene and is unable to, due to the pure whiteness of the snow. The result is often a gray snow instead of the bright white you saw when taking the photograph.

If your camera allows you to, the correction for this is to adjust the exposure by one full stop. This will let more light in and render the snow more accurately. Depending on the amount of snow in your scene, you may need to adjust the exposure control by more or less than one full stop. And with digital cameras today, it’s easy to experiment. Take the scene several different ways and see which one works best for the specific scene you’re capturing.

Click here for some additional photographs from Busch Conservation Area. The first set were taken on a sunny winter day, while the second set were taken on an overcast winter day.

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Laumeier Sculpture Park

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Laumeier Sculpture Park

It was a cold and overcast day at Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis, Missouri.  Snow had fallen a week or so previous, and there were just some remnants of the snow left.

This happy fellow is a sculpture built into the ground, with steps surrounding it to provide a place to sit and contemplate.  The snow and the trampled footsteps all around add some texture to the ‘face’.

The mostly overcast skies provided good light with manageable shadows – you can still see shadows in the face, but they are not as sharp as they would be on a bright sunny day, and they add texture and depth in this case. This photo was taken for 1/200th second at f/11 (ISO 200), using a focal length of 60 mm.

Laumeier Sculpture Park

This next photo shows a massive sculpture – filling a large area and serving as a focal point for many of the sculptures in the park. It is clearly winter, with none of the green foliage to set off the bright red tubing.

The scale is indicated by the trees in the background. While they are a ways off, it is still apparent that this sculpture dominates the landscape.  This photo was taken for 1/400th second at f/11 (ISO 200), using a focal length of 35 mm – a fairly wide angle focal length necessary to capture the entire sculpture.

To see more pictures taken at Laumeier Sculpture Park, click here.

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