Wednesday, December 19, 2012

FIRST SNOW

On Tuesday, December 18th, Milwaukee had its first measurable snowfall of 2012.  It had been over nine months since the last snow, setting all sorts of records (the kind that TV weathermen conjure up to try to create viewer interest).  The snow, about 3 inches in our area, was beautiful and heavy for the period that it fell.  I was so excited that I went out twice during the afternoon to do some photography, heading over to Virmond Park, which is only a couple of miles from our home.  I first went out early in the afternoon at the height of the storm and then again "late" in the afternoon, when the snow had nearly stopped.

I actually took this first shot in our subdivision, which features a stand of woods on the far side of a small pond.


My intention here was to place the evergreen to one side and to make sure the ground at the base of the image was more or less a featureless white.  That's a bird or squirrel nest above the lone evergreen.  Might have better if it had not been there, but there it was.

Here is a stand of trees in Virmond Park that I have shot before and that I shot both times on Tuesday.  This first was taken at the height of the snow.


And, for comparison, here is another shot taken later in the afternoon.


There appears to be a greater buildup of snow on the tree limbs and low-lying vegetation in the second shot.  Perhaps, too, there is more clarity in the background tree on the left in the second shot, as there was less snow in the air by that time.  In addition, there is more color in the tree trunks in this second shot.  I liked the first one better.

This was a wet, heavy snow that clung to the branches.  Here is a shot that illustrates that.


Not a great composition, but I did like the overall effect.  The shot also had nice resolution.  It was shot at an aperture of f/22 for 1/3 second.

One of the features in the park is a pavilion tucked back among a stand of trees, which showed nicely in the snow.  Here is a shot from the early afternoon visit.


The snow was particularly heavy at this point, which gave nice depth to the shot.  This shot was taken at an aperture of f/22 for 0.8 second.  As a result, the snow appears as streaks in the darker areas of the image.  In addition, as I noticed when I looked at the shot on my computer, the image was not as sharp as I would have liked.  Even though I was using a tripod, there must have been some movement, perhaps from wind, during the 0.8 second exposure.

I liked the composition of this shot and was disappointed in the lack of sharpness, one of the reasons that I went back out to take some more shots later in the afternoon.  Here is another shot of the pavilion from that second visit.


Now the shot is sharper, but the snow had diminished, making the scene "busier."  In the first shot, for example, the snow has pretty much blocked out the tree behind the pavilion, while in the second, that tree detracts from the pavilion's lines.  As a result, the shot has lost its depth--and a lot of its interest.

Here is another shot I took in the later afternoon.


This shot was taken with the same lens as the first two.  However, the first two shots were taken at a focal length of 85mm (modestly telephoto), while this third shot was taken at a focal length of 28mm--much more of a wide angle shot.  (The camera was actually closer to the pavilion in this last shot, even though the pavilion looks smaller and therefore farther away.)  I liked this shot because it incorporated the linear stand of trees on the left as well as the stand on the right, which appears to be wrapping around the top of the pavilion.  Still, I wish I had spotted this shot during the height of the snowfall--and gotten it right.

By this point, the light was starting to fail.  At this time of year in Milwaukee, sunset occurs around 4:15 pm, and it was now about 4:20.  Even so, I wandered into a stand of woods on the bluff above the lake.  I was hoping to take advantage of the remaining snowfall to create some "woods" shots that showed depth.  Here are a couple of those efforts.



Just OK, I thought.  Hopefully, I'll have a lot more opportunities this winter to improve my skills.

Taken with my Nikon D7000 with Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 lens.

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