Updated: Apr 2, 2021
The Pacific Northwest was hit by a winter storm this last weekend. For those that follow me on social media you might have seen a few stories about it. For those that live in the Pacific Northwest, you had the privilege of experiencing it firsthand. Some areas saw a huge amount of snow fall, with over a foot in some cities, while others mostly saw an ice storm. Unfortunately, where I am at made me fall into the category of the ice storm. Additionally, as the Portland metro area is not designed for regular snow fall, getting around is rather difficult. With this said, I was not able to get as much photography in that I would have liked, and most of it was of more icy conditions. Some of the photos turned out rather good though, so let us take a look!
1/200 sec at f/6.3, ISO 100, 150mm (NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S)
To make a date out of it I took my fiancé along with me and we drove around the backroads in the snow and ice to find a couple good compositions. From where I am at, this turned into mostly wandering around farmland areas. Which was not such a bad thing, it turned out fairly good.
The picture of the barn above turned out to be one of my favorite pictures from the adventure. I have had my eye on this particular barn for a clear skies sunset shot that I might be able to get in sometime this coming spring or summer. However, the icy barren field with the blown out white foggy sky and the barely visible trees and farming equipment off in the distance really does it for me on this photo. I had experimented with whiting out everything in this photo but the barn to simplify the photo, but it didn't quite work for this photo. This is a style of photo I would like to capture at some point however, I guess I will just have to keep looking for the right scene!
1/80 sec at f/9.0, ISO 100, 70mm (NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S)
As I had previously stated, the area I am in received an ice storm more than a snowstorm, so I also captured a few interesting close ups of the ice that accumulated on everything. Freezing rain for a few days does an excellent job of completely wrapping around tree branches and vegetation. It would have been interesting to get some shots with my macro lens of some of these tree branches but regrettably I did not have access to the lens at the time.
The below photo I took as another comparison of the ice accumulation from all the freezing rain. It is not as artistic of a photo but does a good job of showing a wire fence line struggling to hold itself up at the weight of the ice. With how heavy it is, I am rather surprised that more trees did not fall over during the storm.
1/100 sec at f/10, ISO 100, 26.5mm (NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S)
The next photo I took actually turned out to be one of my favorites of the ice accumulation. Currently debating with myself if I want to add this one to my full gallery/store. It was captured into the sun, which was slightly blocked out by clouds. This portion of the tree had an intricate branch network that funneled some of the light from the sun through it. It had beautiful contrast between the bright sun and the clear ice. This photo could almost be a black and white photo without having to set it as black and white in Lightroom.
Speaking of Lightroom, the ice in these photos take a little bit of work to get the look that you see here. The original, unedited photo showed the ice as less translucent and more white. But you cannot just use global edits as you do not want to diminish the sunlight while bringing the white down a little bit in the ice. The primary global edit I used in most of these is to increase the dehaze just a hair. It is important not to overdo this as it could make the photo look less natural. Of course, unless that is the effect that you are going for. Finally, for the photo shown below I also used a radial filter over the sun to smooth out the intensity by dropping the clarity and dehaze sliders a bit. This reduces the spot intensity, without dropping the light output in the image.
1/640 sec at f/10, ISO 100, 69mm (NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S)
Another quick editing tip that I can bring up while talking about snow and ice here is about white balance. As snow and ice tend to reflect daylight quite brightly and appear to be very white in many cases, snow and ice are often not the whitest part of the scenes that we capture. Not always, but often. So, when editing you snow and ice photos from the winter season it is important to ask yourself if it is actually supposed to be as white as you have it. There is often a lot of blue in the snow and ice. Knowing this also gives you some creative freedoms when it comes to editing colors. When adjusting the HSL sliders this allows you to target the snow with Hue, Saturation, and Luminance directly.
Below I have given a couple of honorable mentions from the snowstorm adventure with my fiancé. They are not as good as most of the photos above but still help to provide some more context for what the storm looked like from my area.
Left: 1/100 sec at f/10, ISO 100, 70mm (NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S)
Right: 1/400 sec at f/8, ISO 100, 62mm (NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S)
I hope that you enjoyed some of the photos here from this year’s winter storm in the Pacific Northwest and some of the quick tips on how you might go about editing these types of photos yourself. I hope you and your families stay safe through these storms, and until next time have a good one!