Landscape Photography | Winter Doldrums & Lessons in Discipline

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This is hands down my least favorite time of the year.

I know this is not a party of 1 and that I am not alone in my sentiment.

The snow is no longer pretty, the great grey sits heavy in the skies, and it is really hard to find inspiration as a photographer (and to put down the bag of Hersey Kisses).

It’s an exercise in discipline.

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It requires discipline to force myself to get out from under the snug warmth of the blankets and dog pile, to put on all my layers and go outside.

Sometimes I wonder if it does more harm than good to forcefully look for inspiration and something to photograph. On the one hand, I think if you go into it feeling like you have  to photograph something, have  to find something worthy, that most often you will come home disappointed. At least that’s how it is for me. Sometimes I feel like I should be shooting and I end up putting all this pressure on myself seeking an image, and in the end I am more disappointed with myself than if perhaps I would have just stayed on the couch watching Gilligan’s Island reruns with the dogs. I think my best images happen organically, unfold naturally.  I feel like when I force it, I end up being way too critical of myself and go back a couple notches on the photographer-confidence ladder.

On the other hand though, practice makes perfect. Forcing yourself out, forcing yourself to look more closely, and to make  images is a practice in discipline. I certainly don’t want to be a fair-weather photographer. Plus, there’s only so much you can learn from your couch.

So I forced myself out.

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That’s exactly what happened with the first couple images of the waterfalls. I hadn’t been out shooting in a couple weeks and had such an itch. I feel like I am in hibernation with the black bears right now and it’s killin’ me. So I forced myself out and geared up with the waterfalls in mind. Man, that was a tough assignment to give myself…long exposure with bright snow. Evil combination. Even with light-reducing filters on the lenses. (Long exposure means the shutter is open longer, it makes motion blur in a more smooth way, but it also lets in a LOT of light in the process).

I’m less than enthused with the images I produced.

But, it’s all about discipline. And learning experiences. (Lesson 1, which seems obvious in retrospect, don’t photograph a long exposure winter scene when the light is high in the sky and reflects off all of the white snow. Duh.)

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This week we got walloped with a lake effect storm. I decided once again, in the name of discipline and getting the blood moving, to get geared up and go outside. The dogs have been just as full of cabin fever as me, so I took them out as well. It was 10am when I shot these images…gives you an idea of how dark it gets when a squall is right over you.

Meet the abominable snow-Dude. He thinks he’s hilarious and likes to mess with Maya.

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However, she is much more of an athlete than he and outruns him. Every time.

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They only lasted about 15min. Truckin’ through that heavy snow really zaps the energy out of them. Ok, and me.

I am always amazed though at the little birds that appear to be un-phased by winter. Sun, rain, lake effect snow…they are always out and about, gathering food, chatting with each other in their groups, and singing their songs. Discipline.

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Go sing your song, friends.


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