Spindrift, Lake George
Screen capture from 4K video: 1/30 sec, aperture unknown, ISO 100
Sony A7SII Mirrorless Camera, Nikkor 24-70mm lens
I visited my parents in Lake George for the holidays last year, where we had a fresh eight inches of snow Christmas morning. It was a winter wonderland. I had finished helping my father shovel the driveway and got out my Sony A7SII to photograph the trees across the road. Then the wind came up, and on a fortuitous whim, I switched to shooting 4K video.
We can learn a lot about shooting stills from shooting video—about timing and special moments, reading the quality and direction of light. We can study natural processes through time—how storms build and ignite, how waves crash against shorelines and wind blows through snow-covered forests. And subjects we don’t want moving in still images are welcome in video; their motion adds interest.
This image is a still grabbed from my 4K video—spindrift frozen in time. One of the benefits of shooting 4K video is that we can pull high quality still images directly from the video sequence, ensuring we capture the height of the action or special moments unrealized until later. I extracted this image as a jpeg in Adobe Lightroom CC. I could cull numerous special images from the video.
I’ve learned winter has its own special happenstances. Photographing it offers so many creative possibilities, ever-changing with the weather and atmospheric conditions. This clip reveals some. First, snow-covered pines are so regal. Snow is also very reflective; note how it reflects the blues of the sky and greens of the pines. And notice how the falling snow simplifies the composition, obscuring the trees in the background. The chunks of snow and the spindrift also add interest. Envision the possibilities of shooting falling snow in your own still images. Obviously windy conditions after a fresh snow—something I may have been disheartened by in the past—can produce dynamic imagery.
Many still photographers are uncomfortable shooting video. To make it easy, set a shutter speed of 1/30 to 1/60 sec, meter the scene to select your aperture and ISO, then hit Record.
So shoot video. And target movement, like from the wind. Beauty often moves.
Happy holidays and happy shooting!
Mark Bowie is a frequent contributor to Adirondack Life magazine and a much sought-after public speaker, offering presentations for conferences, camera clubs and other groups. He is a staff instructor for the Adirondack Photography Institute. He will be leading his Adirondack Winterscapes workshop February 10th–13th in Lake Placid. For information and to register, see API’s website: www.adkpi.org. You can find information on all of API’s 2019 workshops there. For more on Mark’s work, visit www.markbowie.com.