Win­ter ab­stract

Take a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to those white win­ter won­der­land scenes as pho­tog­ra­pher Jo Stephen shows us her take on the sub­ject

Digital Camera World - - PHOTO ACTIVE - jostephen­pho­tog­ra­phy.word­press.com

Jo Stephen has a dis­tinc­tive ab­stract ap­proach when it comes to doc­u­ment­ing wildlife and the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment. Jo has worked in wildlife con­ser­va­tion and ed­u­ca­tion, and even as a glass blower. She is cur­rently study­ing for an MSc de­gree, ex­plor­ing how art and pho­tog­ra­phy can en­gen­der na­ture con­nec­tion and heal­ing for both per­son and planet.

Jo took this eye-catch­ing im­age at Win­ter­borne Clen­ston, in the Win­ter­borne Val­ley in North Dorset, where she lives. “Al­most all of my pho­tog­ra­phy is taken within a very small lo­cal area,” she says, “as I try to min­imise my im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment. But I also en­joy watch­ing the sea­sons change in fa­mil­iar and in­ti­mate land­scapes.”

If you want to see more of Jo’s work she will be fea­tur­ing in the up­com­ing ex­hi­bi­tion Plants and Pol­li­na­tors, run­ning from 1-31 May 2019 at the Dorset Wildlife Trust King­combe Cen­tre, Dorset (www.king­combe.org).

1 In­ten­tional cam­era move­ment

Jo cre­ated this im­age us­ing in­ten­tional cam­era move­ment or ICM. This is when you move the cam­era in a up­wards, side­ways or di­ag­o­nal di­rec­tion as the shut­ter is be­ing re­leased, cre­at­ing a blurred and ab­stract re­sult. If you’re shooting trees, an up-and-down pan­ning mo­tion em­pha­sises their height.

2 Mul­ti­ple ex­po­sure

Along­side ICM, Jo shot mul­ti­ple ex­po­sures. “I took sev­eral lay­ers of im­ages just of the snow fall­ing, and lay­ered the im­ages in Pho­to­shop, as my cam­era doesn’t have a mul­ti­ple ex­po­sure func­tion,” she says.

3 Over­ex­pose snow

Shooting snow can be tricky, as it will con­fuse your cam­era’s me­ter­ing sys­tem. Ba­si­cally the me­ter in your cam­era mea­sures the light re­flected from a sur­face and sets the ex­po­sure to make it 18% grey. This means it tries to dull down the snow, think­ing it’s go­ing to over­ex­pose. To get round this prob­lem, push the ex­po­sure set­ting up. Jo set her cam­era to a +1.7 stop ex­po­sure in­crease; her cam­era set­tings were 1/10 sec at f/22, ISO 100.

4 Give con­text

Rather than go­ing com­pletely ab­stract and los­ing any con­text to the en­vi­ron­ment, Jo has left clues in the im­age so we can iden­tify the sub­ject. “I wanted the trees to ap­pear ethe­real and im­pres­sion­is­tic, which mov­ing the cam­era helped to cre­ate, but as I also wanted the snow to be pro­nounced to con­vey the feel­ing of be­ing in the snow­storm.” It re­ally does feel like we’re look­ing through a bliz­zard into this mag­i­cal win­ter won­der­land.

5 Top tips

If you would like to try these tech­niques for your­self, Jo sug­gests ex­per­i­ment­ing with long hand-held ex­po­sures (1/31/10 sec) to dis­cover the ef­fects that dif­fer­ent move­ments cre­ate. This can be achieved with any lens. Then you can think about how you would like to build up tex­tures, pat­tern and form to cre­ate your im­age, mix­ing static and ICM shots and lay­er­ing your shots in your im­age-edit­ing soft­ware.

1/10 sec ISO 100 f/22

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