A short “Photo Drive”

I hope that winter will be here for a while longer.

There is still lots of snow and the darned cold temperatures seem to have passed us by. But now the weather is changing and there will be more (comfortable) opportunities to photograph the changing landscape.

This past week I decided to take a short drive up a little used road that wanders off into some backcountry fields. It was midweek so there wasn’t much traffic and I could stop anywhere and I might get some fun photos.

I asked my friend Jo’s 7-year-old son, Emit, if he wanted to come. Of course he did and we drove off to have an adventure on the cold overcast day.

At first I planned on using my full-frame DSLR with a 70-200mm, but I had been doing more reading about the little Fuji XT1 I wrote about a few weeks ago.  Gosh, I might as well get used to it and brought both the 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses I got for it. 

Like Nikon crop sensors the Fuji also has a 1.5 crop factor that gave me effective focal lengths of 27-82 and 82-300.  

Tell a seven year old to look out for things to photograph and you won’t miss a thing.  There is no way my 75-year-old eyes can see everything that eagle eye Emit can. 

He saw the horses coming down off the hill towards the road so I had time to change to the telephoto lens and he pointed out the owl in the tree. (Darned if I could see that bird)

I put my big Hemi engine Dodge truck in 4wheel drive so we could turn off the road into the deep snow.  When we stopped for pictures Emit trudged off into the deep snow to pose for some photos to show his mom and dad.  There is no hesitation or silly camera shyness with Emit, he and his 6-year-old sister are used to being models for their photographer mom and it was easy to get some fun photos of him.

Sunny days are the best for wide scenic snow shots. On an overcast day one is forced to look for subjects that work without the sky. Close ups and telephoto shots of animals are best when its overcast.  The Owl hiding in the tree, the horses by the road and Emit in the snow were all better on an overcast day. There were no harsh shadows or reflecting, snow caused over exposures.  Years ago when I was photographing weddings I was always happy when wedding day was cloudy and the lighting was flat.  My subjects didn’t squint and I could easily add just the right amount of light in the most flattering way with a flash. And when the sun isn’t out the colours are always correct. There is no guessing at the shade of purple for example. I now the wedding couple always wanted a sunny day, but as that old photographer’s saying goes. “After the dress is put away and the cake is eaten, all that’s left are the photographs” and if there are good photos without blown highlights and squinty eye portraits the memories will be better.

Emit and I had a good time. He was excited to see that big owl. 

What is it about seeing an owl that is so exciting?  Its not like seeing an owl lounging in a trees, on a power pole wire, or on a fencepost is that unusual where I live. Still Owls, deer and even those blasted coyotes illicit enthusiastic exclamations.  Hmm, seeing wildlife free in nature is cool.  

I think a photo drive in the country is always a good way to relax. And even a photo drive in the city is relaxing if there isn’t a lot of traffic.  The weather will be changing again and I am sure Emit and I will be taking another a short photo drive.