Getting the Shot - Untouched ll

Winter is definitely one of my favourite seasons. It brings so much change to the nature and in the midst of the cold and dark, you can find amazing snow filled, untouched wilderness in every corner.

 

Location

The location where this photograph was taken is Leppävirta, Finland, in the eastern parts of Finland. The forest and forest road in question were completely untouched and were slumbering through the winter in deep snow coverage.

 

Gear Used

For this capture I used a Canon EOS 6D full frame body with a Canon EF 16-35mm F4L lens handheld.

 

Condition

Winter can sometimes bring harsh and cold temperatures, which can prevent even the most hardened photographers to go out. Thankfully, on this particular day, the temperature was around -10 celsius with overcast skies that bring even and easy light in the winter. Even though the temperature was manageable, the terrain was far from it. In most winters, Finland experiences a snow depth from 100 centimetres in the north to 20 centimetres in the south. But this particular winter was quite a bit snowier. It took us roughly one hour per kilometre to travel in this waist deep snow. But finally, we arrived in the hearth of the forest on an old forest road which was completely untouched.

 

Technique

When photographing winter scenes, you witness a huge contrast in black and white. It’s good to remember that you need very even light to not get any harsh shadows to destroy the deep contrast that can be found in winter landscapes. This is why I prefer overcast skies in the daytime and sunny cloud filled sunsets and sunrises. 

This shot was taken at 16mm focal length to get as wide a view as possible. ISO was set at 200 to get the cleanest image possible. Aperture value was F5,6 to be able to use a low ISO value. The exposure time was 1/40 seconds to get a sharp and clean shot.

 

Tips & Tricks

I think it goes without saying that winter can be dangerous if something unexpected happens. That is why extreme care should be taken in planning the outdoor adventures in winter. Some of the most important equipment include: warm clothes, mobile phone, compass, water, snacks/food and fire making tools. Also, snowshoes are extremely helpful if you venture in deep snow or in unknown locations. 

Winter and cold can also be harsh for the camera. The battery life will decrease significantly the colder it gets. Once temperatures reach -20 celsius the cameras battery life has effectively halved. It’s highly recommended to take some spare batteries if staying outside for longer periods of time. Most cameras themselves will continue to operate normally long after your hands are freezing cold, but be aware of heavy temperature fluctuations. 

Any camera, even the toughest of them, don’t like big changes in temperatures. In cold temperatures, the insides of the camera freeze and if warmed up too fast, will generate moisture, instead of just gradually disappearing like air. When taking the camera from the outside cold temperatures inside the warm house, it has to warm up slowly. This can either be accomplished with keeping the camera bag tightly sealed shut and letting it gradually warm up inside, or by wrapping the camera in a plastic bag and doing the same thing.

Untouched ll - RAW image - 16mm, ISO 200, F5,6, 1/40 sec

Untouched ll - RAW image - 16mm, ISO 200, F5,6, 1/40 sec

Post Processing

As much as I love to travel to amazing and beautiful places with my camera, for me, the real magic begins when I get back home and see the photographs on my monitor.

The journey of post processing is individual to all, some like it light and colourful, some dark and gloomy. To me, it’s about showcasing the true raw beauty of nature from my own perspective, from my own view and place within it. Anyone can take a similar image in the same place, but only I can make it in my own vision, the way I saw the scene.

For post processing I use Adobe Lightroom CC. I won’t speak in length about any particular exact details about the post processing, only highlighting the major steps and measures. Post processing is very much trial and error and you should make the image the way you saw the scene, not duplicate or follow any set guide. This particular frame did not need much processing, due to the even and soft light. Before starting with the actual processing of the frame, I always check the lens corrections, removing Chromatic Aberrations and enabling the profile corrections. I also level the frame if needed. 

The exposure, contrast, shadows and saturation was increased.

The highlights, whites and blacks were decreased.

The temperature was also slightly increased to make the frame more warm.

Untouched ll - Final image

Untouched ll - Final image

Afterthoughts

This is one of my favourite winter images, due to the simplicity of it. The contrast between black and white is so pure, exactly as seen on the spot. The snow in the trees and the untouched forrest road in waist deep snow, just shows the true nature of the Finnish winter.