2017 Week 2 Theme: Winter Landscape Photography Challenge

Photo by Fineas Anton
Photo by Fineas Anton

This week, we’re getting stuck into landscape photography with an icy twist. However, before we begin I’d like to talk about last week’s theme. I asked the PhotoBlog community to get a feel for what it’s like to run a 365 photo project by taking and sharing pictures on at least 3 consecutive days. And wow, did you guys ever deliver!

Last time I counted, there were over 150 entries. If I’m not mistaken, that’s the best weekly theme turnout since PhotoBlog relaunched in mid-2016. I’m seriously impressed by your motivation levels. Let’s all fix our eyes on the prize of vastly improved photography skills and keep this momentum up!

2017 Week 1 Theme Winners:

Congratulations to these members! Please check your inboxes for a PM from me in the next couple of days. Thank you to everyone who participated. You can check out all the entries here.

Check out this image taken in Cyprus entered by user Thomas Glaser. Its lush colors and composition stood out to me. Great shot, Thomas! It’s a strong start to your 365 project. To everyone reading, please enjoy this shot as a kiss goodbye to warmer climes before we launch ourselves into a brand new winter-specific weekly theme.

Photo by Thomas Glaser
Photo by Thomas Glaser

2017 Week 2 Theme: Winter Landscape Photography Challenge

I’m writing this as I sit in Terminal 1 of Narita Airport in Japan. Having just spent 9 days traveling overland, I’m feeling pretty exhausted but invigorated at the same time. I started out in the southern city Fukuoka, then made my way to Matsumoto in the Japanese Alps via Hiroshima, Himeji, Osaka, and Tokyo.

In the South of Japan, I found I could get away with a hoodie and t-shirt. It’s been perfect weather for photowalks. Nowhere on my itinerary really felt like winter, that is until I reached the Japanese Alps. At a rest stop on the bus ride from Tokyo to Matsumoto, I felt the seasons start to change. Then, I had my breath taken away by the sight of Mount Fuji from the bus window; its snow-capped summit bathed in the beautiful pink and orange tones of golden hour light.

Photo by Ram Ya. This wasn’t taken during golden hour, but it inspires a similar level of awe to how I felt last Friday.
Photo by Ram Ya. This picture isn’t an example of golden hour light, but it does inspire a similar level of awe to how I felt last Friday.

Later, as my bus snaked its way around Lake Suwa in Nagano Prefecture, the mountains became dusted with heavier snow. Further, on the other side of a mountain tunnel, I reached my final destination. In Matsumoto city, sandwiched between the Alps to the west and the Utsukushigahara highlands (try saying that quickly!) to the east, low-lying cloud gathered at the mountain bases, and throughout the urban landscape too. Adding to the ethereal scene was a murmuration of starlings, darting to and fro. They were probably packing up and heading south.

Winter is here, I thought to myself, and it sure is looking beautiful. Let’s turn our lenses to winter landscapes this week. Try to find your inspiration this week in ice, snow, mountains, and stark leafless trees. Just remember to wrap up warm!

How to Participate:

Deadline: January 15th, 2017

How to submit: Add 2017theme2 as one of the tags in your post on the PhotoBlog platform

Check out the submissions: Use the Weekly Theme tab

Support and encourage: Like and comment on your favorite posts

An Introduction To Winter Photography

It’s no secret: a fresh blanket of snow can make for beautiful landscape photographs. However, as the landscapes around you change with the seasons, you’re also going to need to adapt your camera settings. Here’s an example: as in nature, you’ll want snow to appear as bright white in your photos. But, your camera might see the snowy areas as blown highlights. This can result in your camera turning snow various shades of gray in a bid to control those highlights.

To get you going, I found this great little tutorial video by Ray Scott of Visual Art Photography Tutorials. In it, he answers the above issue and much more. Sit back, relax, and enjoy his dulcet tones as Ray guides you through. He reminds me of American painter and TV show host Bob Ross. That’s a very positive thing!

So, now you know to over-expose just a touch to bring out the brilliant whites of snow. It’s a great little tip. By the way, I’m aware it doesn’t snow everywhere during winter. If there’s no snow where you are, the challenge is to somehow communicate the temperature and season by some other method. How about adding a human all bundled up in winter clothes into your frame? Think of the telling details that could help you show it’s winter.

Winter Landscapes: Get Inspired

This week, I’d like to inspire you with some beautiful photos. I’ve handpicked them from the PhotoBlog platform and around the wider internet. Feel free to take some of the ideas and combine them with your own. Enjoy them!

PhotoBlog user Michal’s stunning winter images

Photo by Michal
Photo by Michal

It wasn’t just my visit to Japan that inspired me to do a Winter Landscape theme. Seeing PhotoBlog member Michal‘s images of frozen trees was also a big inspiration!

Epic mountains

Photo by Go Wild Photography
Photo by Go Wild Photography (Jason Freeman)

Okay, so not many people have the Himalayas on their doorstep. Show us the beautiful mountains and hills you do have!

Roads

Photo by John Salzarulo
Photo by John Salzarulo

Roads make attractive subjects for photography in all seasons. This is due to the leading lines and S lines present in their shape. I wouldn’t want to be driving or hitchhiking this particular road in winter, but I’d certainly love to try out my camera skills there.

Human elements

Photo by Topich
Photo by Topich

Perhaps you can remember Tiffany’s human element weekly theme from last year. If so, you’ll know adding human elements to your landscape can lend them a sense of scale. I can’t stop looking at the photo above. Look how tiny the people are compared to the glacier they’re hiking on. I love it!

Symmetry

Photo by Firasat Durrani
Photo by Firasat Durrani

If shot well, leafless trees in wintertime can be a source of barren beauty. Utilizing symmetry, such as in the shot above, can really help strengthen the brain-pleasing minimalist vibes.

More epic mountains

Photo by Samuel Zeller
Photo by Samuel Zeller

This is a picture of Switzerland’s iconic Matterhorn. This is a mountain that’s been photographed a million times before. So, what did Swiss photographer Samuel Zeller do in order to create a unique image? He waited for unique weather and light conditions. You too can experiment with these elements.

Animal elements

Photo by Annie Spratt
Photo by Annie Spratt

I’ve been a fan of photographer Annie Spratt’s crisp imagery for a while now. Check out her website here. I’ve just realized she took the above photo in England’s New Forest National Park, which is 20 minutes down the road from my family home. Annie, I might be hitting you up for a photowalk sometime soon.

Water elements

Photo by Chris Leipelt
Photo by Chris Leipelt

Compliment your delightful snow-capped mountains by including some water. Use lakes, waterfalls, rivers, streams, ponds, or even a puddle. Just be very careful around the ice if you’re out shooting on your own.

So, there you have it. I hope you feel inspired to take part in our brand new Winter Landscape Photography Challenge weekly theme. I know it’s not winter in the Southern Hemisphere currently. If you happen to live there, please enter by showing us your best ice/snow/winter images from your archives. Of course, the ideal goal for the weekly themes is to get out and shoot fresh, but let’s be real. We’d rather see your photos than not at all!

About the author

Ben McKechnie

Ben McKechnie is a location-independent photographer specializing in travel, documentary, and portraits, as well as a freelance journalist. His work is driven by a fascination in people, and the relationship they have with their culture. Ben is a graduate of both MatadorU's Advanced and Fundamentals Travel Photography courses.