Sunday, January 29, 2012

Snow and Ice – The Morning After with D7000 and 70-300VR

So yesterday’s post was all about yet another in a series of seemingly daily snow squalls or soft flakes or whatever chooses to happen or fall. I shot the D7000 with the Tamron 28-75 2.8 and really enjoyed it.

Today, I was downstairs grabbing some breakfast when I noticed the light was almost perfect to capture the latest coating of snow and ice (sn’ice?) on various surfaces in my yard. So I ran upstairs and swapped the Tamron for the Nikon 70-300VR to get more reach and started shooting out of all my doors.

Starting with the patio door … the sub was coming through a layer of ice crystal clouds, so it was much subdued. The Yellow Twig Dogwood looks simply spectacular with ice and then a coat of snow. It looks like candy …

Backing out a bit, we can see the coating on the Annabelle Hydrangeas and the various bushes in behind them. Forsythia, False Spirea and so on.

Sidebar: I’ve come to a style here that I like best of all so far. I use minimal capture sharpening in ACR with neutral picture control and neutral contrast. Black point and white points set to spread the histogram out to the edges. I add a bit more contrast in CS5 and of course I use the narrowest output sharpening dialed down to taste after I resize.

The ice does not show up at the tips of the branches all that well, but you can certainly see it. The lights and branches in my neighbor’s back yard show nicely as well.

Here’s another attempt to capture the “crystal entity” look of the tips if the yellow twig branches. This one comes close to rendering the glitter.

Here we get a nice feel for the richness of the wood when the sun hits it directly. I nice complement to the yellow branches of the Dogwood.

The softness of the snow comes through here, as the staircase is almost full now. The wind keeps the eastern end of the pool free, though, so the vinyl can continue to take its yearly pounding. The eyes are cool … even thought they signal an impending liner replacement at about 3 grand.

The snow and ice coats everything. The vinyl backs of these chairs have been taking a pounding now for 14 years, and they are like new. They weren’t cheap at the time, but over 14 years they were a heck of a bargain.

The moiré you are likely seeing on your monitor is only there because of the reduction algorithm used for the blog. Click on the images to see them at 800px and they are clean and wicked sharp. The 70-300VR acquit itself magnificently.

Rather delicate details in the following image …

There is enough grain in the snow from all the rain that I am not really trying here for the fondant look. But I do like to retain the 3 dimensionality by ensuring that gradients are rendered.

This soft snow on dead flowers is a poignant reminder that we are cycling through the seasons and each is very temporary. That’s kind of depressing :-)

I love the depth in this next one. It really, really worked.

This one manages to convey less depth than the one above. This is the incredible thing about photography … two seemingly similar images have far different impact based on very subtle differences in composition, tone, etc.

Out to the front door and I’m shooting the yard and driveway to capture the mess the snow and rain have made of the streets. There was someone in the ditch (deep and filled with deep snow) for about 5 hours last night. It was amazing to see the car buried there just off the road about 500 feet from my house.

Anyway … the car renders really nicely here.

The snow clearing trucks continue to roll through the neighborhood. Right by my neighbor's tree.

My neighbor’s Blue Spruce in all its glory.

The sun came out much stronger so I popped to the back yard again and shot this image of the Yellow Twig Dogwood. I think the softer lit ones work much better. As is always true. Sunlight sucks the color and tone out of almost any image. I’ve done what I could with this and I like it. But I like the ones above better.

So ... snow is predicted for many more days in the coming weeks, so I won’t get too excited about the nice temperatures. We’re hovering all the time around 1 degree and that has mercifully resulted in more rain than freezing rain. But we’ve had enough of both for a while.

I shot all of these images in live view mode by the way. I really like live view mode because contrast detect focus is quick enough and generally gets the sharpest possible images in good light.