This photo was taken on a backroad of a typical village of Beauce, a 10 minutes car ride from my home in Quebec, Canada. I had just finished a snowshoe trek with my dog when I took this photo. Usually there aren't many cars passing by on this backroad, there's no houses nearby, it's mostly wood.
I had to wait a few minutes to take this shot as I didn't wanted the car then the truck that were
passing by in the photo. I wanted it to look and feel most like an isolated place.
It was 15:39, on December 21st, a time of year when the sun sets very early in the afternoon. I liked being out to photograph the beginning of this sunset as I had mostly watched them in the warmth of my home since the beginning of winter. It is so special to be outside and witness a beautiful sunset. I feel more connected, more closer to nature and it's splendor.
Winter is a great season to photograph. Even though white is omnipresent we can achieve many different looks depending on the hour of the day we're photographing. For this image I wanted to keep the colors of the sunset just emerging but I was without my tripod and I couldn't do an HDR, capturing the dynamic range between the lights and shadows correctly so I exposed to keep some colours in the sky without underexposing the trees and snow too much. I think winter is the most difficult season to photograph, especially for beginners. Snow can be tricky to photograph, I had my share of over and underexposed photos in winter. Looking at the histogram helps to see if we have a proper exposure.
This photo was taken handheld with a Pentax K5 using a 50mm lens and a Galen Rowell 3 stop graduated neutral density filter over the sky.
When I got out of the woods after the trek I was struck by the beauty of the scenery in front of me.
The trees were loaded with snow from a snowstorm we had a couple days before and it was simply amazing to see. It was so peaceful. I thought how easy it is to go by our every day lives and stop noticing the beauty all around us, especially when you see the same places on a daily basis. So I wanted to take this photo to remind me of this beauty and to never forget, in the midst of our busy lives, that beauty is always there for all of us to enjoy.
My workflow process always begins with Camera Raw in Photoshop to correct the exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows and clarity. After these basics adjustments I went in Photoshop and reduced the blue color cast a bit and changed the color tone by doing a duotone split toning. I then applied the filter Midnight in Color Efex Pro 4 at a low opacity. Finally I applied a bit of a painted effect using the diffuse filter and changing the mode to anisotropic.
In my camera bag
It really depends on how I get to the location of the shooting. Sometimes in summer I go with my bike, in winter some places are accessible only with snowshoes or skis. For places like that I try to avoid an heavy equipment and will only bring my Pentax 50mm lens, sometimes my Pentax 18-55mm, along with my polarizer and graduated neutral density filter. Graduated ND filters are so important, they can make a huge difference when you shoot landscapes with a lot of sky. If I go by car I will add in my bag the Pentax 55-300 mm and my tripod. When I do portraits I take with me those 3 lenses with the polarizer and graduated ND filter. I plan to buy a reflector for portraits so that will go in my bag too soon.
In winter I always have hand warmers and an extra battery.
Most of the time beautiful photos don't happen by chance. When you find a place you would like to photograph try to go at different hours to notice how the light falls on the landscape, where the sun sets or rises over this particular place. Try to notice everything around you to have the best composition, move around with the camera, look up and down, to your right and your left, this will help you see what is the best possible composition. Don't wait when there's a winter wonderland after a snowfall, two days later almost all the snow in this photo had melt. Take advantage of weather conditions like fog, mist, snow, ice, rain etc... and sunsets, sunrises but don't wait, it can all diseappear very quickly ! But sometimes magic happens and we have everything in front of us to make a wonderful photo without having to think or prepare too much. That's what happened with this photo.