Monday, February 1st, 2010

The Struggles of Winter

Where has the time, in particular the January, gone? While I am unsure as to where it went, I feel obliged to let you know what I have been up to lately. As you might have recognized, shooting was not one of the things I have done in abundance but I did have a few fun shoots. Most of the time was spent with planning for the upcoming trip to the US in the summer months and working on presentations and the like for such “lame” things as marketing and market research, finance or business history. Being a full-time student, the time right before the exams is the busiest time of the semester and this is right NOW.

Anyhow, since I mostly wanted to talk about photography, here we go. After a rather brown and gray November and December, which given a normal year, are rather white then brown and muddy, it was the January that finally brought me the snow I was hoping for for quite some time.

But with the approaching snow, the good light faded more and more and instead of watching amazing sunrises and sunsets I’ve been constantly greeted with uniform, dull skies but these did not stop my from trying, to some extent.

The first image I want to share was taken on a hike I took earlier in the year. The fresh snow and below zero temperatures created an interesting backdrop for the single tree standing on the wide open range. The hoarfrost on the twigs resulted in a great contrast to the dark, ominous sky.

Arctic Revenge Canon Rebel XSi with Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 @ 11mm, 1/5sec, f/14.

Next in line is a study of the complex birch tree covered in heavy rime ice. A scene that is easily overseen by many but in situations of longer periods of bad light you learn to appreciate details and abstract views.

Frozen Canon Rebel XSi with EF Canon 70-200mm f/4L @ 200mm, 1/400sec, f/4, ISO400.

I have never been a wildlife photographer but as of late, blame it on the light and Canon for making incredible sharp lenses, I have learned to love avian photography. Photographing birds requires a completely different set of skills than landscape photography. Who would have thunk? I can see though how these two fields of photography complement each other and how learning and experimenting in one field can lead to an improvement in other fields of photography. Both, landscape and avian photography, require patience but then are completely different. When hiking and shooting in the mountains, shooting lakes and the like, it’s all about light, you “simply” have to wait out the bad light and hope the magical two minutes will happen. Shooting birds is different, your mind has to be in a constant hunting mode. Every second the bird can pop out through the branches and be gone a second or two later. There’s no reading books, no walking around, jumping up and down to keep you warm. It’s a tiring battle with critters weighing as much as an USB stick.

Eurasian Bullfinch Canon Rebel XSi with EF Canon 70-200mm f/4L @ 200mm, 1/500sec, f/4, ISO400.

The shot above is of an Eurasian Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) in a thick forest of pines and easily the most colorful thing I have photographed all winter long. Getting this shot required even more than a little luck and patience. It almost cost me an eye to get close to the bird, crawling through the lower branches of pine trees to catch this beautiful male bird. Pine needles are weapons and should be put under restrictions. All kidding aside, Eurasian Bullfinchs are truly a challenge. They easily rank in the first spot when it comes to shy birds (which I tried to shoot) and are usually gone with the slightest unexpected movement or sound. Or maybe I should get some fancy pine and spruce branches to build my very own camouflage hat?

Blue Tit Canon Rebel XSi with EF Canon 70-200mm f/4L @ 200mm, 1/800sec, f/5.6, ISO400.

Another bird image and the last for today features a small younger Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) resting on a twig of a whitethorn bush.

Next challenge: Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) if they will ever come that far south.

Since I promised to include a short trip report from yesterday on my flickr page, please prepare yourself for another episode of: “Photo-G goes Wild. Raw and unfiltered.”

Being greeted with clear blue skies I decided it was finally time for an extended skiing trip through the forests and fields around home. I had planned to go for two hours, shoot along the way and maybe extend it to three hours. What I did not plan happened. I left after a delicious lunch with green Thai curry and to blow it off (pun intended), no, this was not part of the problem. After passing the first mountain ridge and skiing downhill into the forest where I expected to see some wildlife, the blue sky was completely gone and a snow storm started to kick in. Thinking of nothing bad I proceeded through the forest up and down the slopes, finally arriving at the river where I hoped to see, if not photograph, Common Kingfishers and White-throated Dippers which usually are easier to spot now than in the summer due to the few remaining open spots in the river. While I did not see any Kingfishers I was able to spot one Dipper along the way and let me say this, it is truly an amazing animal. Diving into the ice cold water of the fast flowing river in search of little fly larva and other critters. I applaud you White-throated Dipper! If it was me, I’d have backed out. To cut it short, I was caught in a major snowstorm on my way back home, I missed my dear deer Janet and Janice standing only 30 or so feet away due to the high winds that were blowing snow in my face like mad and if that wasn’t enough punishment, I had to find my way home in the pitch-black dark without a headlamp – on skis two inch wide. Fun! I am sure there are more episodes to be shared.

Happy shooting my friends, fellow photographers and nature lovers!


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  1. Eric Bronson



    02 Feb


    Beautiful work David!! I love seeing the snow through your camera!!!


  2. David Richter



    02 Feb


    Thanks Eric! Will do my best to keep more winterly shots coming. Hope you and your plants went through the recent freezes without major damage!

  3. kate



    03 Feb


    I am happy to see that you have a blog ~ I was just over visiting your Flickr page. I am so looking forward to the end of winter here. It has been a particularly harsh one with lots of snow.

    I was sorry to hear that you got caught in a snowstorm ~ what we do to capture pics huh? Your photos are always a treat to see. I hope you keep up this blog!

  4. David Richter



    03 Feb


    Thanks Kate! I will definitely keep up this blog… not only for the sake of having a blog but rather to help myself remembering trips and such and of course sharing pictures and stories.

    Hope the sun will soon shine for you and bring the snow to melt and the plants to live! Happy shooting dear Flower Queen! 🙂

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