Winter Shooting

I’ve been getting plenty of ski days in with the new snow of late, so I decided it was time to put the skis away for a couple of days and do my best to capture winter along the Wasatch Front (and Back). There is something about shooting winter scenics that is strangely more satisfying than other times of the year. Perhaps it’s the frosty temps, or maybe the difficulty posed in getting to and fro. Whatever it is, I have missed it.

A fiery winter sunrise on the Middle Provo River

A fiery winter sunrise on the Middle Provo River

I have ventured out to the Heber Valley the past couple of mornings to shoot sunrises that haven’t failed to impress. This morning was a long haul on snowshoes, but well worth it. As the sun rose, the peaks glowed pink and I clicked away. I was frustrated by mist that seemed to grow strongest when the light was best. It seems that at times, what can go wrong, will. It’s in these cicrumstances that you must be resourceful as a photographer and quickly find a plan B. Frustrated that I couldn’t shoot what I had hoped to, I began looking around and was immediately drawn to an entirely different image. This BW image of snow pillows and treetops in the mist is the resulting image. To think, I never would have bothered to look over my shoulder if I hadn’t been forced to.

Snow Pillows and Mist on the Middle Provo River, UT

Snow Pillows and Mist on the Middle Provo River, UT

Below are a couple of tips for shooting winter landscapes. Some of these seem pretty fundamental, but it never hurts to clear out the summer cobwebs in the brain.

1. Start early–real early. It takes longer to get places in the snow. Whether you’re driving, hiking, skiing or otherwise, give yourself more time than you think you’ll need. Believe me, you’ll need it.

2. If you’re hiking, take two pair of gloves. A thicker pair for the hike, and a thinner, windproof pair (which won’t be soaked with sweat) to shoot in. It’s much easier to hold filters and handle your equipment without the bulk of a burly glove.

3. Layer up. Dress in non-cotton layers so you can adapt to fluctuating temperatures. I always strip off the heavy, insulated jackets when I’m hiking to avoid overheating. When I stop to setup for a sunrise shoot, the down jacket goes on.

4. Wear a beanie. Lots of body heat escapes through your noggin.

5. Have everything as dialed as possible before shooting. This means laying out clothing the night before, placing everything neatly in your pack, etc. When it gets cold, our brains tend to get a bit cluttered. The easier you make it on yourself, the more likely you are to come home with some keepers.

6. Use your histogram to make sure your are properly exposing snow. Typically, you will have to overexpose 1/2 to 1 1/2 stops to accurately expose snow.

7. Don’t forget to hydrate. Just cause it’s cold doesn’t mean you don’t need to drink water.

8. Perhaps the most important one of all–be there for the magic light. There is somewhat of a dearth of quality winter scenic shots, due largely in part to the fact that many people just can’t make themselves get up and out the door when it’s dark and cold. Commit to capturing the good light, and you’ll catch the fever.

Good luck!

Magic light over the Wasatch Mountains and Middle Provo River, UT

Magic light over the Wasatch Mountains and Middle Provo River, UT

‘Tude of a different sort

Today was my first visit to Solitude Mtn. Resort this winter. One of my favorite things about visiting Solitude is the drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon. I fell in love with this canyon several years ago during a brief work stint up at Solitude. I came to know it intimately. I saw its many moods–weather changing at the drop of a hat, light pouring from the sky–you know, all the good stuff.

Enough reminiscing. Today was downright cold, but enjoyabe nonetheless. Solitude opened up the Summit chair for the first time this year, and although still a bit thin in spots, there is plenty of soft snow to be had. One of my biggest frustrationsn when shooting on days like today is the flat, boring light. It’s tough to register any definition in the snow. Texture is lost, and it looks in most images as though the skier is simply knifing into a blank, detail-less canvas or under an uninteresting, milky sky.

Enter Solitude’s tall pines and dense forests. It gives me something to work with when there is little else. Although today’s images are likely not up to publishable standards, it’s always great to get out, give the muscles a workout, and hone your shooting skills in terrible weather. If you can shoot in 30 mph winds, with spindrift freezing to your eyebrows and clogging your viewfinder, then you’ll likely do just fine in those “perfect” conditions when that cover shot plants itself in front of your lens. Here’s to more storms, and bluebird days after the fact…

Daryn Edmunds airing it out at Solitude Mtn. Resort

Daryn Edmunds airing it out at Solitude Mtn. Resort

Daryn Edmunds sampling some pow at Solitude Mtn. Resort

Daryn Edmunds sampling some pow at Solitude Mtn. Resort

Daryn Edmunds threads the needle in the Headwall Forest at Solitude Mtn. Resort

Daryn Edmunds threads the needle in the Headwall Forest at Solitude Mtn. Resort

Visit www.adambarkerphotography.com

Published: Fly Fisherman Magazine

Last year I was fortunate enough to spend several days with one of FFM’s editor’s, Geoff Mueller. We fished and skied/snowboarded for several days, and he ended up writing an awesome article about Utah’s secret season. My imagery is featured throughout the article, and I’m excited as this is my first major byline as sole photographer for a story.

Opening spread of article in Fly Fisherman Magazine

Opening spread of article in Fly Fisherman Magazine

First of the Season

Ski images, that is. Today was a beautiful day up at Alta. The temp was a balmy 4 degrees as I stood in line, waiting for the lift to open. I saw a bunch of other photogs getting early chair and couldn’t help but smile. I needed to ski, needed to get some of that restless energy out before pointing the lens at someone else. There is something about riding a chairlift with friends, the freeze/thaw cycle of cold hands and cold smoke hitting the chin on the first run of the day…if you know what I’m talking about, you’re likely sitting there nodding your head. If you don’t…well, it’s never too late to learn.

Conditions were quite nice, all things considered. The snow was a bit tracked by the time I began shooting today, but I must confess that photography was a bit of an afterthought. Gimme one mulligan at least. Can’t wait for this weekend’s storm–got some great shots in mind. It always is interesting to shoot skiing again after the seasonal hiatus. It’s a 50/50 effort between athlete and photog. Sometimes one or the other screws up, and sometime it all goes right. I’m looking forward to many more of the latter this year. Here’s to deep snow and wide smiles.

Max Kusjaz at Alta Ski Area

Max Kusjaz at Alta Ski Area

Jesse Hall at Alta Ski Area

Jesse Hall at Alta Ski Area

Published Cover: NWA World Traveler Magazine

I’ve been anticipating this cover as I got a call from a creative director last month wanting to use one of my images from Alta Ski Area for the December Issue of NorthWest Airlines’ in flight magazine. You can check out the full digital version at http://digitalnwaworldtraveler.com/. There’s a great article about Salt Lake City, hence the cover shot from Alta. Big props to cover boy Daryn Edmunds for making me look like I know what I’m doing!

Cover of NWA World Traveler Magazine December Issue

Cover of NWA World Traveler Magazine December Issue

Shooting and Waiting

It’s November 19 and temps in the Salt Lake valley are supposed to reach into the mid 60s today. Uhh…hello!? Mama Nature where hast thou gone? I was in full winter mode two weeks ago. Now I’m stuck in the in between. You know what else is stuck in the in between? Everywhere. Everywhere I point my camera it’s a mess of brown, leafless, colorless bleh.

Fog rolls over Salt Lake City's Captiol Building at sunset

Fog rolls over Salt Lake City

Regardless, I have been out a bit trying to shoot more fly fishing. If you haven’t had opportunity to check it out yet, visit www.catchmagazine.net to see inspiring imagery, video and short stories from many of fly fishing’s greats. Be prepared to spend a good 30 min. on this site–it sucks you in. I’m preparing for a winter photo essay I will have in the next issue. That would require…snow. Here’s to an end to high pressure. Let it snow.

Mike Ruzek fly fishing at sunrise on the Middle Provo River

Mike Ruzek fly fishing at sunrise on the Middle Provo River

Published: Skiing Magazine, Dec. 08

Just received an early copy of the December issue of Skiing Magazine to find three of my images published. In a word: STOKED!! This is the first time any of my ski images have been published in one of the big ski pubs, and I am elated. Check out the contents page for a full page image, as well as two half-page images in their “Best of the Year” photo gallery. As friend and fellow (very good) photographer Justin Cash put it, “It makes all that hard work and cold toes feel like it was worth it”. These are terrible scans, but they’ll suffice. On a related note, it just snowed nearly 4 feet in the Cottonwood Canyons, and this photographer is going to make a test run tomorrow. Sweet.

Skiing Magazine Contents Page, December 2008 Skiing Magazine Best of the Year Photo Gallery, December 2008 Skiing Magazine Best of the Year Photo Gallery, December 2008