Photography on an unexpected snowy day

Photography on an unexpected snowy day Making Pictures with John Enman

Photography on a snowy day with a 200mm macro lense.

Photography on a snowy day with a 200mm macro lense.

After days of overcast weather, British Columbia’s February skies dropped lots and lots of light, fluffy, wet snow.

Who would have guessed?  Certainly not the celebrities that read the news to us.

Nevertheless, there were several inches of fresh snow in the morning that wasn’t there the day before and the white landscape was a grand opportunity for photography.

The foggy, white, crystallized, hoarfrost-decorated vegetation I wrote about two weeks ago was gone and replaced with soft billowy snow.  Everything was white, and with the increase in temperature I didn’t even need to wear gloves. It’s hard to turn the dials on my camera with padded fingers, and not fogging up my LCD was nice also.

I wrote about the previous week’s damp, bothersome cold, however, this day it was comfortable wandering through the snow covered woods and fields. I was quickly reminded that I had to be careful not to get covered with snow while I trudged through that landscape.

I didn’t even get past our garden path before both my camera and I was covered with snow. However, I had a hat, and my camera was easily wiped off with the old dishrag I stuck in my pocket. As always, I also had a lens hood and clear filter on the lens.  A lens hood is good under any condition.  Not only will a lens hood shade the front lens element from image softening cross light, and protect the lens from front impact, it shelters the lens from snow. And a filter can always be removed after bumping a lens into a snow-covered branch.

Unlike my last cold day session when I used a flash and saw no need for a tripod, this time I opted to use a tripod. In my excitement I tried some handheld photographs, but the close, low-lit macro images weren’t very sharp. I expect photographers with image stabilizing lenses might have been more successful, but the combination of a long, manual-focusing lens, and my not so sharp eyesight left much to be desired.

So I lugged along my tripod.  I’m not complaining, as I like using a tripod and those that know me have surely heard me say, “If you don’t like using a tripod, it’s because you have never used a good one.”

I was in no hurry and didn’t know what to expect, so I took two lenses with me. I hoped for some good landscape shots and stuck a 20mm in my pocket and mounted my 200mm macro on the camera. As it was I quickly exchanged lenses and took pictures of our house, the view down the street and photographed the somewhat bushy wooded area across the road from my place.

Although I initially began with landscapes, it was the intimate snow covered vegetation that demanded my photographer’s attention and having a telephoto lens designed for very close photography helped with that. Put a wide angle lens on a camera and we tend to miss what is happening up close, but a telephoto narrows our view and the 200mm macro kept me looking closer and closer as I isolated parts of plants or drops of water on a wire fence.

I wandered around for quite a while and took lots of pictures as the light changed. But, when I got back and loaded the image files into my computer I quickly realized those I liked best were from my wife’s garden; but I had enjoyed the long walk in the deep snow anyway.

It’s always fun taking pictures even if all you do is delete them in the end.

I know that snowy overcast days, or cold foggy mornings, like we have had recently put many photographers off going out and taking pictures.  They wait for the sun, thinking there can’t possibly be anything worth photographing in flat light. Obviously, I don’t agree.

My wife reminded me about a lecture we once attended given by internationally renowned Canadian photographer Sherman Hines. Hines said, “I don’t force myself on the environment, I let it manipulate me. There’s no confrontation with nature because I give in to it. I let myself be seduced completely”.

These are my thoughts this week. Contact me at or  email: Stop by Enman’s Camera at 423 Tranquille Road in Kamloops. And if you want an experienced photographer please call me at 250-371-3069. I also sell an interesting selection of used photographic equipment.