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Winter is Coming

Many people say that landscape photography is all about planning and patience. Studying the weather forecast, the sunrise or sunset times, the moon rise and moon set times, the moon phases, elevation and position of either, seasons, tide tables (although not really a priority in Switzerland). Researching the locations is important, and at this time of year also have to look for which roads may be blocked. Then there is the patience. Waiting for everything to fall into place can take time.

If you're lucky it's just location and weather that you are waiting for, but there are times that it could be location and weather and season and moon phase and elevation of the moon. If one thing doesn't fall into place, you may have to wait for another year to try again!

But it's not just this, if I waited for all of the pieces to fall into place I wouldn't take any pictures. Sure, planning is important, for some images, but the real trick is simple. Go outside, whatever the weather, whatever the season, go outside.

Forecasts are not always right. The weather doesn't have to be perfect. Weather changes, and it can change very quickly. The two images below were taken less than 5 minutes apart. The first was taken with the camera in the second shot. The second image with another one.


On Monday I planned a trip to the Vosges with a camera that is finally back from repair. I checked the sunrise time, I checked the weather, I checked which roads would be closed, I checked local webcams with live feed, to see how much snow had fallen. I was going there to take pictures of the sunrise, I was going to get there at my favourite time of one hour before sunrise, set up and wait for the colours to arrive. I had everything planned, I was covered! Or so I thought.

The trip takes around 1 hour 30 minutes. About an hour into my journey, I turned a corner to find that a road that should be clear, a road that I had checked and confirmed would be clear, was blocked. In this type of area, it's not just a case of quickly taking a small detour. This road block meant that I had an extra hour to get to the location.

My planned 1 hour 30 minutes journey was now going to be an unplanned 2 hours 30 minutes, plus an extra 30 minutes walk. This meant that I missed the sunrise! All of the planning for nothing.

Plans can change. I was still in a beautiful area. The forests were covered in fresh snow and I was taking a route that I hadn't been on before. I missed the sunrise, but they'll be another one; I had nothing at all to complain about.

After getting close to Hohneck, I parked up and headed into the forest, following a path that would take me to the Hohneck summit.

This first image is taken from along that path. The slight colour still coming from the tree and a touch of solitude, even with the surrounding trees is what brought me to take the image.

The next was taken 10 minutes later. Weather changes.

I find this shot more interesting because of the person coming over the crest of the hill, out of the clouds/mist. It's also interesting that the image a tilt shift effect, which I think is caused by the blurred foreground and dense cloud cover gives.

He stopped for a chat about camera bags, luckily for me he spoke English. I really need to learn some French! If you happen to read this, it was nice to meet you, thank-you for speaking English, and I hope you don't mind being in the image.

He also had something with him that I'll be taking on my next trip up there; snowshoes. The snowdrifts were too deep for me to manage to get up to the summit, so next time I'm there I plan to have them with me.

A trip to the Vosges wouldn't be complete without an image or two of Chamois. I just love these creatures. This one appeared from behind some rocks while I was taking in the view.

The last shot is a little experimental. It's an image that was taken from the same location and of the same Chamois as the previous shot, so you can directly compare what's been done to the image. I've converted it to black and white, and removed a lot of the elements from the image to minimalise the shot and centre the point of focus on the chamois.

If there hasn't been too much fresh snowfall this week, I'll be back up there on Monday. This time with snowshoes too.


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