A Long Look at Winter with the 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS | Sports
Photography in winter can be a challenge. And when I say “winter”, I’m not talking of winter in the sense of majestic snowcapped peaks framed by freshly powdered pines with perfect golden light and fire-toned brushstroke clouds–I’m talking more of the winter of dirty refrozen slushpiles downtown three frigid days after a mid-January sleetstorm around 11:17 on a grey Tuesday morning when it seems there’s nothing magical left in the world worth getting out of warm car with a camera for.
Winter has its challenges, for sure, especially in the deciduous zones, where skeleton trees thrust bony fingers at the sky, and vistas and sweeping wild scenes are brushed widely with swaths of stingy browns and grays, instead of the festive pastels of spring, the lush greens of summer and the fall fireworks of foliage palette. But winter has it own charms and own rewards, and for photographers looking to challenge themselves and experiment, it can be a great time to get out and explore with a long lens, like the new 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS | Sports lens.
A barren snowflecked hillside may not be the most photogenic scene you’ve ever encountered, and might not necessarily work with an ultrawide lens, but the details: A snowy bird’s nest, a lingering leaf, and an icicle hanging from a branch and sparkling just so in the low winter sun can tell a story in as series of vignettes.
Downtown, the long reach of a telephoto zoom lens can explore the nuances and quirks of architectural elements to fill the frame with details not so noticeable at street level: Gargoyles, Grotesques, masonry patterns, weathering on vanes, columns and chiseled stonework, wood carved and turned into columns, balls, and repetitive decorative elements and the complex interplay of angles and light.
In town, on the beach, or along a nature trail, there’s a lot to love about long-reach winter photography. In general, everywhere is a lot less crowded, so for those who enjoy the solitude of the photographic experience, there’s much less human distractions. On blue sky days, the light is more pleasingly angular, even at noon, and the atmosphere is crisper and clearer, which makes skies pop! Golden and blue times occurs later in the morning, and earlier in the evening. Also, colder ambient temperatures also keep camera sensors cooler, so sensor-heat noise issues are less an issue in winter. Lakeside, or along the ocean, it’ll often just be you and the birds, and the occasional jogger or dogwalker; unlike the usual throngs you’d likely encounter in warmer weather at the same spots.
Through a sweeping field of view, winter can often appear bleak, or worse visually, just boring. But winter can be a great time to capture details through a telephoto lens that may often be overlooked in other times of the year. Get out and explore! You very well may like what your photographic eye finds!
Jack Howard is a lifelong photographer and author of two editions of the how-to book, Practical HDRI. Based in Central Jersey, Jack's go-to photography spots are backroads and beaches of his home state. He loves to travel far and wide with his wife and daughter, visiting national parks, museums, tropical islands and more along the way.