Finding Artistry in a Rare Austin Snow
We had a rare Austin snow event today. You can’t really call it a snow storm since it was only about an inch of snow. However, this is Austin, Texas and an inch of the white stuff can shut down the city. To the great joy of my kids, school was cancelled. I didn’t get any more sleep than a regular day, the kids where hankering to get out and play. I broke out the Canon 7D and decided to take some snow scenes of the house. Then when all the neighborhood kids started running around, I got some action shots of the impromptu snow battles. After everything settled down and the kids finished their first round of play, I decide to create a bit more artistic snow images. The sun was finally out and the snow was starting to disappear so I did a quick walk around the neighborhood to see what I can find.
I’ve blogged a lot about my Sony NEX-5 recently that it was nice to break out my “big” camera. It was fun using several lenses this morning. I started with the Sigma 10-20mm super wide-angle to capture the snow scenes around the house on tripod. It was dark and I did 1 minute long bulb exposures to capture the ambient light reflecting off the snow. Then I switched to the 35mm f2 to get some portraits of my kids in the snow, it was still early in the morning and I needed a fast lens with a big aperture. I used the 18-135 zoom to capture the kids and the dogs running around in the street. Finally I turned to my 50mm f1.4 to stimulate my artistic, creative side. Its been a while since I used this lens and the shallow depth of field was something I have missed while using the NEX-5.
I didn’t have a plan. I just walked around for about 30 minutes to see if I can capture some images of the neighborhood snow. It didn’t shoot much. Some images worked, others didn’t. The 3 presented on this blog post are my favorite artistic snow scenes. I converted them to black and white to, arguably enhance their artistic feel. I hope you like them.
My Thought Process
Image 1: You can tell the snow is thin and the tire tracks left these dark patterns against the asphalt. I liked the pattern of the tire tracks with the texture of ice and snow. It was hard to find a clean set of tracks since several cars and people have already passed through these streets. I found this branching design that seemed like it would work. I cropped the left side to eliminate some distractions and the black and white conversion further simplified and unified the image. It all about the texture and pattern. There was minimal post processing. Just some sharpening, some brightening the mid-tones and the crop.
Image 2: Down a the community park, I wanted to capture a broader scene of snow and nature. The park which is usually picturesque had some temporary construction fencing that prevented me from getting the sweeping vistas. I settled for this scene of trees. I liked the little mound of snow and the bark texture of the foreground tree. Unfortunately there is a lot of distractions from all the branches that surrounds this wooded area. I used post processing to burn (darken) and future blur the background trees to make them less distracting. The main tree was also dodged (brightened) to make it stand out. I cropped the left side to simply the composition. All post processing was done in Aperture 3.
Image 3: This image represents another kind of track, created by a child, and not a car. I think the image is interesting but my least favorite out of the 3 images. I probably should have found a bolder foot step imprint. Showing a path of steps might also work but it is certainly cliché. What makes this a bit different, perhaps, is the bits of grass in black that really stands outs against the white. I think there is a bit of softness and delicacy in this photograph compared to the first two. It may, however, arguably lack a strong focal point. A bit of an experiment, something different for me. I used a healing brush to reduce some of the distracting darker spots in the snow. The image was sharpened, the definition increased and a vignette was added.
[Note: Click on the images for a larger version]
I took the photographs in RAW with the Canon 7D with the 50mm f1.4 lens. There were post processed using Aperture 3. I used the black and white conversion built into the Aperture to create these photographs. Post processing varies but is described above.
Image 1: f2.2, 1/2500 sec, no exposure compensation, ISO 100 at 50mm
Image 2: f2.2, 1/1250 sec, +1/3 exposure compensation, ISO 100 at 50mm
Image 3: f2.2, 1/3200 sec, +1/3 exposure compensation, ISO 100 at 50mm